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11 August 2011

Nance: Concern About Student Protection Act

Kearney Missouri native Matt Mason was killed in Afghanistan this past weekend when his helicopter was shot down. Mason was a member of the Navy's elite Seal Team Six. He leaves behind a wife, two children & a third child on the way. Please pray for his family and all of our military.

SB 54

I have been receiving communications regarding the passage of Senate Bill 54, and more specifically, the internet communication policies established within the bill. I wanted to pass along some information that may be helpful in communicating with you about this bill. Please forward this to your teacher friends because some districts block some emails.

The bill, known as the Amy Hestir Protection Act, is named after a student who was repeatedly sexually abused by her teacher. The teacher was subsequently hired by numerous school districts before retiring. Currently, school districts fear being sued for sharing information about former employees, and as a result, many teachers are able to transfer districts without having information about misconduct disclosed.

To put an end to this practice, the new law requires criminal background checks for teacher applicants, allows school districts to share information with other districts regarding sexual misconduct by their employees, and makes districts liable if they fail to disclose information regarding misconduct upon request by another district.

The most contact is over the provisions regarding student-teacher online communication, though. Here are some of the key points from that section:
  • Senate Bill 54 requires all school districts to adopt policies relating to student-teacher internet communication. These policies must be adopted no later than January of 2012.
  • The law requires school districts to adopt policies which prohibit “exclusive communication” between teachers and students on internet websites. In other words, all communication between teachers and students on the internet must be accessible to parents and administrators.
  • These policies DO NOT prohibit online communication between teachers and students unless the communication is not accessible to parents and administrators.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 154-0 and the Senate by a vote of 34-0. It is also important to note that this bill has been under consideration in the legislature for the past four years, and this year, was supported by the following groups:
  • Missouri State Teachers’ Association
  • Missouri National Education Association
  • Missouri School Boards Association
  • American Federation of Teachers of Missouri

In the District

I attended the Ray County Coalition meeting last Thursday in Richmond and met former Royal Jim Eisenreich who does volunteer work for the “House of Hope”, an organization that works to prevent domestic violence.

On Tuesday I visited the Crystal Lakes Council meeting and then met with officials from MoDOT in Lees’ Summit.

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