Image via WikipediaCole County (Mo.) Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction on Friday against a law designed to prohibit teachers from having private online conversations with students declaring that it “would have a chilling effect” on free speech.
The law reads in pertinent part, "No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use non-work-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student."
Judge Beetem writes in the preliminary injunction, "Even if a complete ban on certain forms of communication between certain individuals could be construed as content neutral and only a reasonable restriction on 'time, place, and manner,' the breadth of the prohibition is staggering...The Court finds that the statute would have a chilling effect on speech."
Soon after the injunction, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced that he will ask the General Assembly to repeal the social media provisions in the controversial law.
This clumsy state-wide provision was sitting there waiting to be challenged and (hopefully) overturned. I have no issue with the intent of wanting to curtail inappropriate contact between students and teachers using social media. It just seems these provisions were doomed from the beginning from a free speech perspective and from an enforcement standpoint. It will be interesting to see what comes next or if other states watch the Missouri outcome and tailor similar bans.