Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Missouri Law Bans Social Media Contact Between Teachers and Students

Missouri's new social media law was created to protect students from sexual misconduct by teachers. The law bans direct contact between educators and students on social media and is also known as the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act".

Section 160.069 of the new law prohibits teachers in elementary, middle or high schools from establishing, maintaining or using a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and a child's legal guardian. At first glance the bill sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, upon further review it will create many unanticipated problems. It is reminiscent of Cleveland's recent effort to ban Flash Mobs and/or Tweet Ups. Great intentions but bad law.

There is a tremendous lack of understanding regarding social media by elected officials across the country. Does Missouri have a law that bans teachers and students from being able to join the same Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues? Does Missouri have a law that bans teachers from interacting with students in activities outside of the school environment?

If a teacher is not able to interact with a student privately online why should a teacher be able to interact with a student privately in the real world? This new law is an over-reaction and will most likely soon be challenged and eventually overturned.

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.

Baltimore Law Dean Should Be Reinstated and State Legislature and Board of Regents Must Investigate

Below is an open letter that I posted earlier to the Facebook Page, "Concerned UB Law Alumni"

Dear Governor O'Malley, the Board of Regents, Maryland Senators and members of the House of Delegates:

I am writing to request that your offices work to reinstate the former University of Baltimore Law School Dean Phil Closius and to open an investigation into how the University of Baltimore spends law school revenue. On July, 28, 2011, the President of the University of Baltimore Robert Bogomolny demanded that Dean Closius resign soon after receipt of the school's ABA accreditation report. Since Dean Closius' forced resignation there has been conflicting information regarding the issues behind this action that need to be fully investigated.

According to the Maryland Daily Record's Editorial Advisory Board, "overall, the report was excellent, but with one critical exception. That exception related to money and how the law school’s tuition receipts are spent: not by the law school or for its benefit, but by the university administration for programs and expenditures unrelated to the law school, in a way that is far in excess of the situation of other universities’ economic relationships with their law schools." Here is a link to the entire Daily Record Editorial Advisory Board Opinion.

Dean Closius' tenure has been highly successful. For example, the school's U.S. News and World Report ranking has jumped from 170 to 117, he has revamped the Career Services Office, he has worked with Johns Hopkins to create the Center for Law and Medicine, he has created the nationally renown Center for Sport and Law, etc... Dean Closius is a tireless advocate for the University of Baltimore community. His enthusiasm has infected the students, professors, alumni, and law school supporters. If you speak with the majority of the school's students, faculty, alumni, and donors they will resoundingly support Dean Closius' reinstatement.

There are too many questions left unanswered. Why is President Bogomolny upset that Dean Closius discussed his concerns about the law school's funding with the ABA and other interested parties? What are all the indirect costs and expenses that President Bogomolny cites are necessary to operate the law school? If President Bogomolny was correct in his assertion that the new law school's naming opportunity was worth more than $10,000,000 why wasn't this figure achieved? If law school tuition increased in the last school year by $1.4 million why did the law school’s budget only increase by $80,000? Why did the state of Maryland Office of Legislative Audit find that University of Baltimore did not have proper internal controls regarding the processing of purchases and disbursements?

The concerns that Dean Closius brought up in his email to the University of Baltimore Law School community must be reviewed. President Bogomolny's follow up email failed to respond in any meaningful way to Dean Closius' concerns. Therefore, as the Daily Record's Editorial Advisory Board states, Dean Closius deserves to be reinstated. And his forced resignation and the events leading up to it must be investigated by the Legislature as well as the Board of Regents.

Bradley S. Shear,
University of Baltimore, J.D. 1998

Some background articles

Daily Record Articles

Baltimore Sun Articles

Baltimore Business Journal



Contact information for some interested parties

Contact Information for the Board of Regents http://www.usmd.edu/regents/members/

Contact Information for Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley http://www.governor.maryland.gov/staff.asp

House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee Contacts

Maryland Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/05sen/html/com/02eco.html