In addition to routine items on the agenda such as transferring funds between accounts and paying bills, board members have a full schedule Thursday evening. One significant agenda item is possible approval of a new district policy regulating staff-student relations.
This policy is required by a new state statute. According to SB 1, a rewritten version of the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act passed during the General Assembly‘s special session last fall, all districts must adopt policies concerning employee-student communications, including electronic communications, no later than March 1, 2012. The statute was controversial enough to attract national media attention because of concerns that it might violate First Amendment rights to free speech. According to the Missouri State Teachers Association, which is the organization suing the state over this bill, the concern is that they may now have to fight the constitutionality of this issue in every district instead of just on the state level.
Responding to the state legislature’s directive, the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) has distributed a model online communications policy to members. Platte County’s policy is evidently based on the MSBA’s. Printed at the top of the draft policy is the following message:
Senate Bill 54 (2011), Senate Bill 1 (2011 Special Session) and the contents of this policy have received an extreme amount of media attention. For this reason, MSBA recommends that administrators and Board members read this policy carefully, discuss the policy with the employees impacted, and consult the district’s private attorney prior to adopting this policy.
The board meeting, which is open to the public, will take place in the Education Center Board Room, 998 Platte Falls Road, Platte City, MO 64079.
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