Senator Jane Cunningham filed Senate Bill 1 in the Special Session to fix many of the concerns of the social media section of her previous bill. Senate Bill 1 repeals sections of Senate Bill 54 regarding social media.
Under Senate Bill 1, school districts must have a policy on social media by March 1, 2012.
The School Board can write that policy as broadly as it wants, but that doesn't mean the policy would withstand a challenge in the courts if it violates first amendment rights.
Our preliminary injunction remains in effect until February 20, 2012, unless it is dissolved. As long as the injunction remains in effect, school districts cannot restrict your non-work related use of social media with students or former students and you cannot be disciplined for using social media in this manner. However, if your school district implements a policy under Senate Bill 1 prior to March 1, 2012, the district policy will be in effect immediately and the provisions will have to be reviewed.
This means until the injunction is dissolved or changed by the courts or your district implements a policy, you can continue to use social media to connect with family and friends, or any unrelated person, who may be a student or former student. You can use Facebook, you can use Twitter or text, you can have a blog, you can share photos and have chats, you can play Xbox live, and you can use electronic communications to run coaching camps or be a youth minister.
We will work with individual districts and teachers to make sure that all district policies continue to give teachers their first amendment rights, while at the same time allowing for proper use of technology.
The district still may limit your use of social media and technology in work related activities. As before, we urge you to communicate with your district about how you currently use technology and social media. Give the district specific examples. Make sure your concerns are addressed as the administrators and board discuss the policy they intend to adopt. Tell them about your Moodle sites, your public Facebook page, your classroom blog, the homework chats, the texts about the bus being late to the game, the classroom book exchanges online and anything else you are doing that engages your students and enhances their learning. We know many of you will have lots of questions and concerns about these policy issues.
As noted above, the injunction continues to protect educators thorough February 20 from discipline or other adverse consequences for using non-work related social media. Since Senate Bill 1 repeals the original provisions of Senate Bill 54, MSTA will consider further action in the lawsuit we filed to prevent violations of educators’ first amendment and workplace rights.