Judge hears arguments regarding Facebook law

A Missouri judge is weighing a request to stop a new law restricting the use of social networking sites by teachers from taking effect Sunday.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem heard arguments Wednesday on the motion by several teachers and the Missouri State Teachers Association for an injunction blocking the law's enforcement.

The measure prohibits private communication through websites such as Facebook between teachers and current students or former students who are still minors. It also requires school districts to develop policies on electronic communication. "I've gotten one e-mail from one student one time. I have to talk on their platform," Iron County Teacher Carrie Tripp said. "Their platform is text messaging and Facebook."

An attorney for the teachers argues the restrictions are too broad, curtail free speech and could inhibit how children are taught. "Teachers statewide have been lumped into the category with sexual predators and immoral people who take advantage of students," said MSTA Attorney Kent Brown. "Our clients do not fit in that category and should not be treated as if they do."

The attorney general's office contends teachers' behavior is already regulated by policies, and the new law is a reasonable update accounting for new technology.(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)