JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A new Missouri law prohibiting teachers from having private online conversations with students suffered a double setback Friday. First a judge blocked it from taking effect because of free speech concerns. Then the governor called for its repeal.
The law limiting teacher-student conversations through social networking sites such as Facebook had been scheduled to take effect Sunday. But Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction blocking it until at least February, while declaring the restrictions "would have a chilling effect" on free speech rights.
A couple of hours later, Gov. Jay Nixon said he would ask lawmakers to repeal the restrictions during a previously scheduled special session that starts Sept. 6. Nixon's request goes even further than the judge's order, which was confined to private conversations on non-work-related websites. The governor also wants lawmakers to reverse new restrictions on work-related websites and abolish a requirement for schools to develop written policies by January on teacher-student communications.
Nixon, who signed the legislation, said the provisions about online communication are "causing substantial confusion and concern among teachers, students and families" and thus should be stricken.
"In a digital world, we must recognize that social media can be an important tool for teaching and learning," Nixon said.
The judge blocked enforcement of a provision that would teachers from using non-work-related websites that give "exclusive access" to current students or former students who are 18 or younger. That would mean communication through Facebook and other social networking sites would have to be done in public, rather than through private messages.
Another section of the law, which the judge let stand, requires teachers' work-related Internet sites to be available to administrators, parents and students' legal guardians.