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Students Suspended, Expelled Over Facebook Posts

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the reading-writing-and-rhetoric dept.

Facebook 669

An anonymous reader writes "Two students have been suspended, and one student has been expelled, over negative Facebook postings they made about a teacher. The individuals are in seventh grade at Chapel Hill Middle School, meaning they are either 12 or 13 years old, according. The children are accused of violating a portion of the school code that is a "level one" offense, the worst possible: 'Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting' allegations of inappropriate behavior by a school employee toward a student."

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They are going to have to pass a law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396232)

Against making executive decisions based on Facebook posts. It's getting ridiculous.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (4, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396290)

Against making executive decisions based on Facebook posts. It's getting ridiculous.

What these students did was a jailable offense if only they were old enough. Doing things that would land an adult in jail is a fairly good reason to expel someone.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (4, Informative)

Collapsing Empire (1268240) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396448)

What these students did was a jailable offense

Maybe in North Korea or China. In America something like this is at most a civil tort of libel.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (5, Informative)

BizzyM (996195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396608)

I was about to side with the kids on this until I read TFA. They called him a pedophile... screw these kids, expel 'em!

2 things you never throw around lightly: Pedophile & Rape.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (4, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396560)

Based on what my grandparents told me when I was growing up, 100-150 years ago, teenagers were far more capable than they are today simply because more was expected of them and they were given actual responsibilities. (and there were consequences for failing to fulfill them) If teens acted like they do today back then, they would have been looked at as being childish and feeble-minded. Even as recently as 70-80 years ago, you would have been disgraced as a parent if your kid did most of the "normal" stuff that teens do today. I'm not convinced that our modern culture of extending "childhood" until age 18 is the right thing to do... it certainly didn't happen a century or more ago and more of often than not people were better off for it.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (3, Insightful)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396596)

Even as recently as 10-20 years ago, you would have been disgraced as a parent if your kid did most of the "normal" stuff that teens do today.

FTFY.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396670)

they would have been looked at as being childish and feeble-minded.

I'm fairly certain that they already were looked at like that no matter how they acted (or at least they definitely are now). Some people seem to view it as 'insulting' when they receive legitimate criticism or information from a child, evading it by insulting them based on their age.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (3, Insightful)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396302)

I hate to be the one to do this but it is in fact already illegal to publish such things about a person and yes the kid should be expelled (and then sent to a boarding school).

Slander/Libel is illegal and in this case you can be sued over it.

Facebook 15 years ago would have been a Bulletin Board at the local arcade/kids hangout.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (-1, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396398)

I also support a "Don't worry about ridiculous facebook posts" law.
Public school teachers only work/teach half as much as they did 25 years ago.
Who will sue them for STEALING an education from students for their own personal comfort/laziness?
Like Wikileaks, blowing off steam about wrongdoers on facebook needs to be a worldwide public service.
(self)Proclaimed authority need a system of checks and balances that social sites provide the public.
Dictators and hoolums like Gadaffi, Obama, politicians and public servants can walk the straight and narrow path or have their wanderings reported by the people ,for the people. I mean, damn , it's either that or bloody revolt. Whadda you want?

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396490)

Public school teachers only work/teach half as much as they did 25 years ago.

Who will sue them for STEALING an education from students for their own personal comfort/laziness?

And you think the right punishment for being lazy is being jailed on a false accusation of pedophilia?

Tell that to your boss next times he catches you reading Slashdot at work.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (2, Funny)

PreparationH67 (1971850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396532)

Public school teachers only work/teach half as much as they did 25 years ago.
Dictators and hoolums like Gadaffi, Obama, politicians and public servants can walk the straight and narrow path or have their wanderings reported by the people ,for the people. I mean, damn , it's either that or bloody revolt. Whadda you want?

I didn't know viewers of Fox News were smart enough to post on slashdot, or use a computer for that matter.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396436)

Thank you very much. We keep pointing out that there is no difference between doing something and doing something *with a computer*, and now you want to create another law that makes this useless differentiation.

If they had posted fliers with the same content, they would have gotten into trouble too.

Re:They are going to have to pass a law (1)

das3cr (780388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396672)

Have to agree. These schools Vs student facebook postings are ridiculous.

Good. Deserved. (5, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396250)

Called someone a "pedophile" in this age of crazy parents, vigilantism, and indefinite search engine indexing they deserve at least to be expelled. Such accusations could very easily result in that teacher losing their job or worse having some moron fire bombing their home. It is exactly this kind of thing which is driving male teachers out of education in droves.

Also, this story has nothing to do with Facebook and really doesn't belong on /.

Re:Good. Deserved. (0)

data2 (1382587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396268)

Maybe I need sarcasm-tags, but seriously? Please look at the age of the children and think again about your comment.

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396334)

I fucking damn well knew better at their age than to say lies like that in public about *any* adult, let alone teachers.

Re:Good. Deserved. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396412)

Levelling 'paedophile' against a teacher is insanely damaging. They work with kids. As soon as the accusation is made it doesn't matter whether it's true or not. The media latches on to child abuse cases like leeches and while they'll say 'alleged' a lot you can guarantee the public won't think much of that teacher afterwards.

Re:Good. Deserved. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396610)

1. Teacher gets called paedophile
2. Media gets interested enough to contact the school
3. (Optional): Teacher is pissed off about the whole affair and makes some comments in anger, whether about the media, the state of the world today, or the behaviour of young people today
4. Media latches on to this as a potential scandal
5. Media starts referring to "the controversial teacher" or "the conflict surrounding the teacher" with reference to the several articles highlighting possible problems with the teacher (articles they have just written themselves)
6. Media starts speaking to parents who have never met the teacher but lets them read the articles about a controversial teacher accused of being a paedophile
7. Media harvests parent reactions
8. Parents and media confront the school
9. Teacher resigns, either voluntarily or being forced
10. Teacher will never have a normal life again

The only way the teacher can come out clean in this situation is if both the teacher and the school completely stonewalls the media so that over time they simply don't have enough information to milk for new controversy. That is a lot to ask for, because many people will feel justified at defending themselves at length if media comes to them with accusations.

Re:Good. Deserved. (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396424)

They're at an age where they really need to learn that you can't throw around the pedophile accusation.

Re:Good. Deserved. (4, Insightful)

data2 (1382587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396568)

And suspending them for a few days is all good and well, although a parent-teacher conference was really intimidating for me back then, and frightened me enough. Point is: When you are 12, do you really necessarily know what a pedophile is and that is not just another name you can call someone to piss him off?

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396644)

Well, kids know that it's an extremely hurtful thing to say... I don't know if they know why. Probably not. Kids are cruel. They just pick up on what's going to be most hurtful.

I sort of agree with that suspension is a pretty heavy handed response, although borderline acceptable. Not quite sure whether the school has jurisdiction here. Still, the kids need to know that this sort of thing is not acceptable behaviour.

Re: they knew full well - and got off lightly (1, Informative)

fygment (444210) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396572)

They knew full well what they were up to; they didn't say "potty head" or "stinky pants". You're naive. The kids had already had years of indoctrination about the dangers of pedophiles and the serious badness of 'inappropriate touching', etc. Obviously you don't have kids. What is sad is that their characters are so twisted at such a young age. Scary.

Re:Good. Deserved. (2)

superslacker87 (998043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396288)

Wait... pedophile + rapist = suspension, while bipolar = expulsion? Where is the logic in that one?

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396382)

Wait... pedophile + rapist = suspension, while bipolar = expulsion? Where is the logic in that one?

Maybe the teacher was a pedophile in the manic phase and a rapist in the depressive state?

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396446)

Wait... pedophile + rapist = suspension, while bipolar = expulsion? Where is the logic in that one?

I was thinking the same thing as well, but then I realized how illogical ALL of it is. It might as well have read bipolar = 12 lashings from a monkey.

And yet again, my sig speaks volumes...

Re:Good. Deserved. (2)

mallydobb (1785726) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396470)

yeah, that one eludes me. The school had no grounds to get involved, this should have been a civil matter between the teacher and the children making the statements (libel, defamation, etc). Now, that the school did get involved I don't see how claiming someone as bipolar is worse than claiming they're a rapist and a child molester. Were I the student in question and the principal asked me to login to facebook for him I'd just refuse. What the children did was wrong but the school took it too far.

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

Manfre (631065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396666)

I guess the principal is stating that the teacher is in fact a pedophile and a rapist. The comment about being bipolar must have been factually untrue, warranting the more severe punishment.

Re:Good. Deserved. (0)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396394)

Are you that dense?

This has to do with freedom of speech and the internet. It has to do with how facebook ties into that and absolutely ties into slashdot. These kind of things do impact network admins, who wouldn't need excessive filtering (they'd still need porn/malware but not a controversial filter) if it wasn't for shit like what the school is doing.

If the teacher loses their job, that's the school doing a horrible job and opening themselves to lawsuits. Hear of something bad about your employees? Is it worth investigating? If so, do so. If not, welcome to a new lawsuit. If a teacher's home gets firebombed, as extreme and generally unlikely that it is, it's unfortunate. But some people are stupid enough to do that over anything, let alone fake pedophilia claims.

Re:Good. Deserved. (5, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396576)

Freedom of speech is about being allowed to say "pedophiles should be hanged".

False testimony/libel is saying "mr. teacher x is a pedophile".

Former is legal. Latter is not. Do not mix one with the other. Location the libel is irrelevant - internet is governed by same laws as everything else.

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396466)

Actually it has tons to do with facebook. Ten years ago, if you said this in an IM convo, it wasn't public like it is with facebook. Technology has changed, but people use it the same old way. Kids need to learn that facebook is a lot less private, so they should be a lot more careful with what they say

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396624)

Actually it has tons to do with facebook. Ten years ago, if you said this in an IM convo, it wasn't public like it is with facebook. Technology has changed, but people use it the same old way. Kids need to learn that facebook is a lot less private, so they should be a lot more careful with what they say.

Chances are that twelve year olds didn't use IM ten years ago, and that Facebook is their first communication medium.

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396494)

Called someone a "pedophile" in this age of crazy parents, vigilantism, and indefinite search engine indexing they deserve at least to be expelled. Such accusations could very easily result in that teacher losing their job or worse having some moron fire bombing their home. It is exactly this kind of thing which is driving male teachers out of education in droves. Also, this story has nothing to do with Facebook and really doesn't belong on /.

Nothing to do with Facebook? Yes, you're right. It has to do with all social networking sites, websites, blogs, etc. and our ability to exercise free speech. Perhaps you would realize how close this hits to home right here on /. with that, for one of us could be targeted next.

It might frighten you to discover a similar anti-defamation policy buried deep on page 174 of your employee manual that you never knew about, or perhaps it will be an amendment to said manual next month because of this.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely see your point, but there are arguments on both sides here, with the legal precedent creating a profound and rippling effect on IF social networking (or true free speech for that matter) would continue to survive.

Re:Good. Deserved. (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396554)

Called someone a "pedophile" in this age of crazy parents, vigilantism, and indefinite search engine indexing they deserve at least to be expelled. Such accusations could very easily result in that teacher losing their job or worse having some moron fire bombing their home. It is exactly this kind of thing which is driving male teachers out of education in droves.

I know, there ought to be a law! Not about facebook, but a law that says all male teachers have to be chemically castrated eunuchs! That way the kids can never say they were pedophiles! That would fix the whole priest thing too....

Ridiculous? Yes. It is ridiculous! Of course, there have been many instances where young female teachers have sex with underage boys.... Does anyone call them pedophiles? No, because subconsciously all the male lawyers and judges are quietly saluting the young boy - "Score, dude, she's hot! Wish I had been so lucky when I was your age! WAY TO GO! Gimme a high five!"

Seriously though, I agree - any FALSE claim of pedophilia, incest, rape, molestation, etc is truly libel whether it's though an electronic media, speech, print or the bathroom wall.

makes sense (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396252)

'Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting' allegations of inappropriate behavior by a school employee toward a student."

This is a SERIOUS offense. For a student doing this to a teacher, it's no wonder he's expelled. If an adult falsifies or erroneously reports serious allegations like that, it's a felony! I'd say the kids should go to juvenile detention if they lied and said a teacher did serious stuff to kids.

Re:makes sense (1, Troll)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396306)

What the hell business does the school have exercising jurisdiction over a facebook posting anyway?

Did the student use a school computer to make the post?

You wanted this for your fucking brats. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396336)

Those who sow the wind.

I hope kids these days appreciate their thirteen year mandatory sentence. This is exactly what the snot-nosed bastards deserve - one might think, if one wasn't aware that they're only snot-nosed bastards due to a complete lack of parenting.

My kingdom for genetic testing and mandatory training classes before any random jackoffs are allowed to bump uglies with intent to produce a kid.

Re:You wanted this for your fucking brats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396380)

My kingdom for genetic testing and mandatory training classes before any random jackoffs are allowed to bump uglies with intent to produce a kid.

Who said any of them intended to?

My kingdom for everyone surgically sterilized before puberty with a second surgery required to reverse it and make them fertile again. Oh yeah you know what the second surgery would absolutely REQUIRE? The signature of the father.

you're right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396342)

I'm the one who posted the parent to this... You are right, the school shouldn't have the right to do anything if the posts weren't made on school grounds BUT the law has to do something about the offense and lock the kids up....that's even worse than being suspended/expelled.

Re:makes sense (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396356)

Then the school administration should just call the police, or maybe the families of these people should be sued for slander. Sorry, no excuse.

She accused the teacher of being a pedophile (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396366)

This has direct impact not only on the reputation of the guy, but on the school , and the adminstration of the school, principal, etc... So yeah, the school had cause to act, at least check the accusation, and if wrong then at the very least suspend the student , potentially also going into libel lawsuit for the school teacher agaisnt the student.

Re:makes sense (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396590)

Why is that relevant? Student commits a crime against school employee. Location of the crime is irrelevant - relevant is that crime by student had a school employee as a target.

Re:makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396408)

Yeah! These people are governmental employees. We simply cannot allow people to make verbal or written statements about government workers that are not 100% true. Chapel Hill, you rock!

My Cousin Posts Stuff Like This (1)

superslacker87 (998043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396264)

About her math teacher. I think that it is dumb for the very same reason that these kids got in trouble. But, in retrospect, I'm 31 and she is 13 and I certainly wouldn't have made the connection that saying my math teacher was stupid on the Internet would have major ramifications at that age either.

Re:My Cousin Posts Stuff Like This (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396296)

The posts in TFA are a little worse than that. If your cousin is falsely accusing adults of diddling children, pull her aside and beat her senseless before she ruins someones life.

Re:My Cousin Posts Stuff Like This (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396400)

Calling your teacher stupid is fine. It's a subjective judgement. Accusing your teacher of rape is not (unless they actually did it, of course) - it's slander / libel.

They deserved it (4, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396270)

Posting on the internet that someone is a paedophile can have some very serious repercussions even at the wild accusation level. Why is there shock horror at the decision to refuse to allow a pupil that falsely the staff paedophiles to attend?

Re:They deserved it (0)

mallydobb (1785726) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396498)

the children deserve consequences and you are right that their allegations were quite dangerous. Unless the postings happened at school (and even that issue is questionable) the principal had no authority to make the student open her facebook page in front of him. Best case, this should have been a legal issue between the children and teacher in the form of a lawsuit.

Re:They deserved it (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396520)

Posting on the internet that someone is a paedophile can have some very serious repercussions even at the wild accusation level. Why is there shock horror at the decision to refuse to allow a pupil that falsely the staff paedophiles to attend?

How is it that we as a society have become to treat anything posted online as the gospel? It kills me that people stand there and laugh at the "nonsense" that is on the front page of the National Enquirer or The Sun these days, and then go home and believe everything they ever read on Facebook because well, a "friend" said it.

Bottom line is people need to stop being so fucking ignorant of what is posted online, and perhaps at least TRY and assume some wild accusation is false before perpetuating the lie like wildfire. And I'm not talking about 13-year old kids here with their gossip, I'm talking about adults doing the same damn thing.

I mean hell, innocent until proven guilty is only the cornerstone of our legal system...

Re:They deserved it (0)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396592)

I honestly don't mind the suspensions, but an expulsion is well beyond reasonable punishment for something that never went beyond speech, didn't take place on school grounds, and there was no particular reason to believe was true (even if it is).

Children should be punished for inappropriate behavior as a means of teaching right from wrong. An explusion is something that is going to follow her around. It's going to screw her family, who now has to try to find another school to take her in, which may or may not be anywhere near where they live, and may have no recourse but homeschooling or one of those schools for "troubled students." It will probably affect her ability to get into top colleges going forward even if she is otherwise completely deserving. In short, it is going to have a significant harm on her life and her family's.

Expulsions exist, and should be exercised, only to protect the population. If she's bringing weapons to school, an expulsion should be considered. If she is consistently getting into fights or disrupting her classes and previous, less severe punishments have had no effect, an expulsion could be considered. "I said my teacher was a pedophile on Facebook one day" should have never even entered consideration, much less actually had it applied.

It's like a life sentence for libel. Yes, libel is a problem and yes, it deserves a punishment, but not nearly one that severe. I hardly ever say something like this, but I think it's time for the family to lawyer up.

Re:They deserved it (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396678)

And, ironically, the students who called the teacher a pedophile and a rapist were suspended -- the student who was expelled called him bipolar.

Cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396282)

Maybe next time they can record audio/video of said allegations. Wouldn't be the 1st time that would show the kids were right on their claims. Then again if it's just audio they could still claim its falsifying the teachers voice or something of those lines of thought.

Furthermore, if it is more than one kid claiming bad behaviour from the teacher part, i believe the chances of being true claims are quite higher.

Re:Cellphones (4, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396456)

Maybe next time they can record audio/video of said allegations. Wouldn't be the 1st time that would show the kids were right on their claims. Then again if it's just audio they could still claim its falsifying the teachers voice or something of those lines of thought.

Furthermore, if it is more than one kid claiming bad behaviour from the teacher part, i believe the chances of being true claims are quite higher.

It's people like you who make the draconian decision by the school necessary.

People's lives have been destroyed [wikipedia.org] by false accusations. Hysterical parents who should never have had children, greedy lawyers, those are worse than pedophiles, because they can cause more harm to more people.

The punishment against a false accusation should be at least as severe as the punishment against the crime itself.

Re:Cellphones (1)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396508)

Well in many states it's illegal to record government employees in public places. It's possible the kids recording the teachers could result in a bunch of legal issues for the kid.

Re:Cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396544)

Yeah, children would never agree to lie about their teacher to get them in trouble! Never!

From TFA (4, Insightful)

gaspyy (514539) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396298)

Alejandra Sosa said she regretted posting a Facebook status calling her teacher a pedophile. She has been suspended for 10 days. “I was just expressing myself on Facebook, because like I said I was mad that day because of what he [did],” Sosa said in a statement. “So, I mean I had no intentions of ruining his reputation.”

The case will be very important in deciding what falls under free speech and what the school can discipline students for

So irresponsible name-calling because of a low grade or something is now expressing oneself and an example of free speech? Nice.

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396396)

So irresponsible name-calling because of a low grade or something is now expressing oneself and an example of free speech? Nice.

Yes, it is such on both accounts, they were expressing themselves...
unfortunately showing very little intelligence and eloquence in
doing so. And their speech is protected.

However. Free speech cannot trump someone else's rights. And
if their free speech happened to entail libelous statements, well
they get to meet what is in Justice's hand opposite the scale..,
the sword of justice.

Plus since it wasn't factual, they broke the school rules.

Bad decisions. I think everyone failed in this case, parents, kids,
teachers, school, administration.

-@|

Re:From TFA (4, Insightful)

Quakerjono (1561915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396570)

Wait, how did the teacher fail in this case? The students clearly failed because at age 12 and 13 you should know enough to not tell lies about people just because you're angry.

School district may have failed by actioning on a Facebook post not made on their computers. That's up for debate, but it is perhaps understandable that they acted to both protect the teacher and their reputations and send a message to other students that this level of name calling is not acceptable.

Parents definitely failed in not monitoring their children or teaching them appropriate impulse control. If you're going to turn control over your children to a school, then you can't act shocked when the school disciplines your child. It's great that some of the parents are considering getting lawyers and giving their children a chance to experience how the legal system works, but perhaps had the parents shown this level of interest in their children to begin with, it wouldn't have happened.

But the teacher here was just doing his job teaching students. Call a teacher stupid? Well, I suppose, although even that shows a distressing lack of respect for an authority figure who, by all accounts, hasn't done anything to warrant it. Call them a rapist, a pedophile and accuse them of mental illness? All of those are career enders for teachers (again, generally because of parents who are only involved in their children's lives when they smell a payday with a lawsuit) and, unless the student has a legitimate accusation, should require consequence.

So I see student fail, school fail and parent fail, but how the hell did the teacher fail? The teacher was maliciously and slanderously attacked for doing his job. Seriously, we've gotta stop treating teachers as second class citizens. Just lumping everyone into the blame game to seem fair or even handed is bad critical thinking and neither fair nor even handed.

Re:From TFA (0)

das3cr (780388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396410)

So irresponsible name-calling because of a low grade or something is now expressing oneself and an example of free speech? Nice.

When did it stop being free speech?

Seems to me the school needs a huge helping of common sense fed to them. "Out of the mouths of babes" ... maybe there should be laws to prosecute kids for what they say .. NOT.

Re:From TFA (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396464)

I agree, but courts have basically removed all the rights of kids at the schoolhouse door and created fiefdoms for the administrators. It would have to be a very egregious circumstance before they got slapped for overstepping their boundaries.

Re:From TFA (4, Insightful)

FlatEric521 (1164027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396484)

When did it stop being free speech?

The instant libel and slander laws were enacted. We are not free to call the teacher a pedophile, and neither are the children in question. By their age (13) they know enough about right from wrong to know not to lie about people. This student went ahead and no only lied about her teacher, but made a false claim about her teacher behaving in a criminal way. If she had gone to the police, it would have been the criminal act of filing a false police report. As it stands, expulsion for something potentially is libel seems appropriate.

The only thing that I had a problem with in the article was that the school administrators forced the student to log into her Facebook account. That seems, as the article claims, to be a gross violation of privacy.

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396504)

When did it stop being free speech?

When it became this:

FACT: Roderick Fikel fucks underage girls.

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396452)

Yes actually. That is an expression of free speech.

e.g. westboro church.

Agreed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396326)

In the age of Zero Tolerance I'm 100% ok with this decision. Brats need a tough lesson when they act out. Otherwise it will be the Police who are babysitting your kids instead of the TV.

question (0, Troll)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396354)

How does the school district even have jurisdiction in this case?

Was the offending facebook post made from a school computer? During school hours?

It might be libel, but unless the school actually has jurisdiction this suspension and expulsion is a load of crap.

Re:question (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396426)

Schools don't have jurisdiction over anything - they are not law-enforcing entities. However, when a crime (in this case, libel) is committed against a school or a member of the school staff they may choose to punish the student for the violation of school rules (e.g. one saying 'don't do illegal stuff') and not press charges. Beyond that, the school may punish students in any manner that the parents have agreed to for violation of school rules and may (usually) withdraw its services (i.e. suspend or expel the student) without agreement of the parent.

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396626)

Libel is not a crime, it is a tort.

Re:question (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396522)

I'd hope that a school district can refuse to allow a child convicted of murder to enter the premises of a normal (not special) school.

Spreading libel about a school teacher creates a hazardous working environment for the teacher and the students.

There are some basic rules like "Don't falsely shout fire in a crowded theater" [1]. And then there's The Boy Who Called Wolf [2].

There's an article on the subject [3], but you might want to consider what the EEOC has to say [4], it basically says that the teacher's employer (the school system) has an obligation to investigate (which it seems they did) and take action.

> What will my employer do if I report harassment?

> Once your employer knows that you are being harassed, it has a responsibility to correct
> the situation and protect you from further harassment.

> Your employer should promptly and thoroughly investigate your claim.

check

> This may mean that your employer will interview you, the harasser, and any other witnesses.

check

> If your employer determines that you were harassed, it should take steps to stop the behavior
> from continuing, such as transferring the harasser to another location.

a suspension or expulsion does this, check

> Your employer also must make sure that you are not punished, treated differently, or harassed
> for reporting harassment.

this is harder. if the school has enabled you to be tarred and feathered by parents, then it's now in trouble. but it basically has an obligation to explain the law to the parents and tell them to grow up and teach their children a bit of the basics of our society ([1] + [2] would be a good start, but some Respect for others would be a nice addition).

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shouting_fire_in_a_crowded_theater
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Who_Cried_Wolf
[3] https://law.asu.edu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=fsKXtzndrRo%3D&tabid=1122
[4] http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/harass2.html#Q5

Re:question (1)

shish (588640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396580)

How does the school district even have jurisdiction in this case?

Maybe it's just the school I went to, or just this country (England), but when I started high school we had to sign some sort of contract thing essentially saying that if the school is involved in any way (with "actions committed while wearing the school uniform" as the example) then the school has jurisdiction in addition to the regular authorities.

own fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396370)

looks like someone could not protect his profile..

Re:own fault (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396430)

Even if the student had protected their profiles, the information would still have been sold to advertisers. Next time the teacher logged in, he'd get targeted ads aimed at pedophiles...

Public school? (0)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396374)

I'll assume this is a public school, in which case they don't have any choice but to follow our Constitution, namely the First Amendment. These children said these things out of school, it's none of the school's business. If they go snooping and find out, then they can't do anything about it.

Bottom line is kids say things about teachers they don't like. They always have and always will. Punishing them for exercising their freedom of speech will only cause further resentment towards the school and teachers which will result in more severe verbal bashing of the institution. Not surprisingly, the article doesn't mention what the teacher did that may have resulted in this type of reaction from the students.

Re:Public school? (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396462)

First Amendment, blaw, blaw, blaw... These children said these things out of school, it's none of the school's business.

Did you "read" the article? No, of course not.

They made false accusations of serious criminal activity. Is that sort of thing protected by the First Amendment? I'm not a lawyer.

Please get off your soap-box and live in reality. These children's little prank could have had (and possibly still can have) serious life-changing consequences for their falsely accused teachers.

Re:Public school? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396578)

Sosa is currently drafting an apology to her teacher. At the same time though, she said her school principal, Jolene Morris, violated her privacy by ordering her to log into her Facebook account at a school library computer. Morris then reportedly read the offending post and ensuing responses from friends before ordering Sosa to delete the posts.

Context is everything. The admin forced the kid to delete to posts. Are there actual copies of these posts anywhere? People are assuming its criminal without knowing the context or what was actually said. Without knowing what was written this is all assumption. If the kids said "Teacher X raped Student Y" I tend to agree, but what if they said "Teacher X acts like a rapist." Or "Teacher X leers at me like a paedophile." Is that libel? I am just saying that the administrator's actions sure give him a lot a latitude to say "the post said this."

Re:Public school? (4, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396612)

I'll assume this is a public school, in which case they don't have any choice but to follow our Constitution, namely the First Amendment.

The first protects your right to free speech, however you are still liable for any consequences of exercising that right. It does not grant you any immunity from being punished for what you said.

These children said these things out of school, it's none of the school's business. If they go snooping and find out, then they can't do anything about it.

They can - schools have the right (and responsibility) to provide a safe working environment for students and staff. If something is said or done off campus hay can certainly take action as a result of what was said.

Bottom line is kids say things about teachers they don't like. They always have and always will. Punishing them for exercising their freedom of speech will only cause further resentment towards the school and teachers which will result in more severe verbal bashing of the institution.

Maybe they'll learn that their free speech rights come with responsibilities as well.

Not surprisingly, the article doesn't mention what the teacher did that may have resulted in this type of reaction from the students.

Yea, it's probably something as horrific as giving them a bad grade because they didn't do their work or separate them in class because they were talking to each other.

I did RTFA, but... (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396376)

...remember that there is no violation her if what the kid says is true.

I know, unlikely in this case, but it's something to think about. Seems like a way that "policy" could be used to cover something up since kids are usually assumed wrong at school until they are proven right (at which point the administrator starts to ignore them).

At any rate, in the U.S. we've given school admins the right to pretty much create law by creating a "policy." I am not comfortable with that. It can and has been used as CYA too many times.

Re:I did RTFA, but... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396472)

and child publicly admitted her wrongdoing and that she pretty much lied there.

Re:I did RTFA, but... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396588)

And kids can't be pressured to say or do something by an authority figure? Again... no way to judge if the posts are deleted.

For kids? Really? (1, Insightful)

naetuir (970044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396384)

Kids, much less adults, understand the repercussions of 'inking' something on the internet. This is why it's so important for their parents to step in and stop them from such things. Yes, kids need censors for some of the stupidity that they perpetrate while they are (gasp) children! That doesn't mean you suspend or expel. You take corrective action, and smack down the parents for not doing their job. Yes, their JOB. Having a child is a JOB. I get so tired of people that try to blame schools and governments for childrens stupidity. If their parents didn't allow it, it wouldn't happen.

On the flip side of this, I think that there is a majority of adults who don't understand the implications of 'inking' something on the 'net, either. The root of the problem isn't even the ink. It's the social contract tat people hold themselves to. Just saying "rape" with someones name connected to it can ruin their life, and that is crappy as hell.

suspending - yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396388)

Suspending for a afew days - good enough punishment. Make public case for other pupils - it is good punishment.
Expelling, nah i don't think its appropriate.
What makes me amazed, such young child makes such allegation, how could they even think of RAPE? So perhaps expelling wasn't such a bad reason. Parent's obviously failed to educate children of what responsibility is. If kid knows what rape is, it should also know how damaging it is to reputation of person he/she badmouthing. Punishment is definitely deserved.

Re:suspending - yes (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396414)

They might have just been using it a slur... we will never know because we lack to context. I was wondering, for instance, if any of the posts called the teacher "Gay." How many times has that been said in a schoolyard without the kid knowing exactly what it meant?

The beginning of the end... (5, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396420)

"...We’ll definitely be hearing more about this one as Facebook and other social networks continue to grow in popularity."

Grow in popularity? Uh, no, I doubt it. This is yet another nail in the liability coffin that is Facebook.

Not long ago I read how Facebook is being used to decide who should be selected to sit on a jury, with potential jurors being "coherced" into befriending the court in exchange for free wi-fi service in the courtroom, allowing the court to "see all".

Also not long ago, I read how Facebook is responsible for quite an alarming number of cases of infidelity, leading to divorce, with divorce lawyers practically drooling over getting their hands in their opponents juicy Facebook tidbits.

Schools. Potential employers. Current employers. What's next, will Military background investigations be done from an office chair instead of getting out in the field and actually interviewing someone, relying on social network "profiling" instead?

As more and more people realize that social networking is a liability in their lives, they'll realize it's not worth it.

Then again, with the air of ignorance around the law these days, maybe people won't give a shit until they have to hire a lawyer to defend what they've posted. Free speech...isn't free.

"meaning they are 12 or 13 years old" (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396440)

sounds like OP doesn't know many remedial kids. In some areas, that could mean 18. Heck I'm compelled to imply that Ive had the displeasure of working with people who operated at the 7th grade level well into adulthood.

presumed guilty (1, Insightful)

scotts13 (1371443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396444)

I'm 100% on board with the seriousness of this, but not with the schools reaction. It's a matter for the courts, not the principal, unless the posts were done on school grounds with school equipment. And being "forced" to log onto the account while at school? That should be right out. When a libel case comes to court, the suspect has the opportunity to defend themselves; they MAY have reason to believe the person actually IS a pedophile, rapist or suffer from bipolar disorder. Seems unlikely, but you never know - and now we never will.

Re:presumed guilty (1, Troll)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396510)

We've made administrators lords of their little fiefdoms and all rights away because they are watching after kids and somehow children are sub-human. I don't see anyone would be surprised by any of the administrators behavor in this. The kids did something wrong here but we'll never know to what extent because the administrator made sure of it...

The teacher was the first victim (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396566)

the suspect has the opportunity to defend themselves; they MAY have reason to believe the person actually IS a pedophile, rapist or suffer from bipolar disorder

And the teacher has no opportunity to defend himself?

Do you mean that if someone accuses you of a serious crime, his right to defend himself against a libel charge comes before your own right to defend yourself against a criminal accusation?

Expelled for calling the teacher a bipolar? (1)

jjsm (895856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396450)

Alejandra Sosa, an honor roll student, said she regretted posting a Facebook status calling her teacher a pedophile. She has been suspended for 10 days.

William Lambert, also an honor roll student, had the same feelings as Sosa after he was reprimanded for calling the same teacher a rapist. He has also been suspended.

Taylor Tindle was *expelled* for posting that the same teacher is bipolar.

OMG, Really?

Re:Expelled for calling the teacher a bipolar? (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396618)

So, you've got a kid lying, saying that an adult licensed to teach and professionally tending to the education and safety of children is mentally ill. This leaves a stain on that person's reputation in their field, and could make it difficult for their career. Or, perhaps the teacher actually is bipolar, but has it well under control through medication, and you've got a kid spreading private medical information online, in an attempt to damage that person. Either way, you're dealing with a kid that has decided it's within his rights to deliberately and publicly try to damage the reputation of a person who makes a living working with kids. The kid was expelled for exhibiting real malice, and showing the willingness to act on it, publicly, to hurt somebody's career. Good riddance.

Re:Expelled for calling the teacher a bipolar? (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396668)

*expelled* for posting that the same teacher is bipolar.

OMG, Really?

Sure. Since we do not know the disciplinary history of this involved it may have been the next step in a series of punishments.

Geez, could you at least put the accusation (4, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396458)

In the original posting? I mean I was all ready to type up how terrible this was and a school over steping their bounds but then I actually read the article. There's a world of difference between saying things like I hate my teacher or he/she is a moron and he/she is a pedophile.

Interesting response (3, Insightful)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396496)

This was a response to the article on zdnet, written by "stevey_d":

Lawyers make every argument adversarial. This is unethical and divides people whereas they should learn to live better with each other.

Children often talk in terms like this about teachers, it's normal. What isn't normal is for the teacher to overhear it (or, if they do, they have the nous to develop bad hearing). This is the same for management in an organization. The only thing here is that the kids didn't figure any adults would intrude on their personal conversation.

The school and the teachers have been ill advised here, someone could have quitely taken the kids to one side, explained the public nature of the chat, and helped them make it hidden or deleted. (enforce privacy).

This whole case is ridiculous. Kids are kids, they don't always know how to behave, they make mistakes. The adults in the situation were clearly not mature enough in their response. Adversarial relationship no, should very rarely have anything to do with school/kids.

Re:Interesting response (2, Informative)

qengho (54305) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396586)

Children often talk in terms like this about teachers, it's normal.

Except this isn't analogous to talking about a teacher during recess, it's more like posting flyers on telephone poles near the school.

Suspension? Yes. Expulsion? No. (3, Interesting)

perlith (1133671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396502)

Previously if you were caught writing such a message on the walls , you would have to erase it and then were suspended for 10 days for the action. Now if you do it on Facebook, apparently you get expelled, rather than having the opportunity to redact such statements and make a public apology / amends for it.

People should be allowed to be young, make mistakes, face consequences of their actions and learn from them. It's called growing up. This is not the way to go about it at all.

Re:Suspension? Yes. Expulsion? No. (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396636)

Previously if you were caught writing such a message on the walls , you would have to erase it and then were suspended for 10 days for the action

You can't possibly be so obtuse as to not recognize the difference between something on a wall that a small number of people might see, and which can be removed, vs. an online posting that can take on a life of its own and become essentially permanent in a venue accessed by billions of people.

Facts v. Opinions (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396530)

Had the kids posted opinions - IE: "My teacher sucks" - No biggie, and totally protected.
Instead, they posted factual allegations.
"My teacher is a pedo/rapist" is Libel, which is not protected, and clearly actionable.
It also has consequences. Erroneous accusations like that ruin careers, and send people to jail. A few hundred years ago it was "Witch, Witch!" Today it's "Pedo, Pedo!"
If you want to see scary, look at the OP comments - "That teacher should be investigated, the cops should be all over his house!" is the meme there.
Finally, for those saying "not the school's place to get involved." Actually, it is - the school has standing to take unilateral action here in order to protect itself and its employee. Period.These posts were retaliation for official acts. Left unaddressed at the institutional level, it becomes an effective method of blackmail. Yeah, the teacher can sue too, but then you've got the boatload of issues that come with litigation that I for one would never want to entertain. For a deterrent to be effective, it has to be Cost Effective. Cheap harms are best countered by cheap deterrents, otherwise students have an incentive to hedge, and kids are intuitively good at gaming incentive structures. Besides, I can just hear the whining now -

"Teacher sues for being called a pedo on the internet."
Comments:
Litigious bastard, he's probably a pedo.
Why's everybody suing all the time.
etc, etc

What is the difference (4, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396538)

While I do agree that what these students said was wrong, I don’t believe they should be punished for what they did. They need to be disciplined, sure, but the school should not have a right to get involved. This is a very fine line we’re talking about.

So somehow discipline is not punishment? Tell that to my Mom when I did something stupid like talking back to her. Soap on the tongue sure felt like punishment to me.

Having read TFA, the issue I find most jarring is that the parents of these children are considering suing the school for their actions. Really? Now that's a grand way to teach children right and wrong. "Gee Johny, you called your teacher a pedophile and got suspended because it was a false claim? Lets sue the bastard instead.". I don't see the argument as being over whether the school had the right or not, the core issue is that kids now feel free enough to use words, to "ink" words like pedophile, rapist, bi-polar as weapons. "Ha, you can't touch me because I am protected". Instead of taking the school to task for taking action to protect their employees, how about we take to task the parents that create children with little to know awareness of basic respect to adults. I may not have liked my English teacher in high school, I certainly may have said to friends, I cannot stand that lady, but had I called her a rapist, my parents would have applauded the school and added further "discipline" to make their "punishment" seem kind.

i hope (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396548)

the parents have lots of money for good lawyers and appropriate umbrella insurance coverage...

Shut up (1)

findoutmoretoday (1475299) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396562)

Business as usual,  like 50 years ago,  it is not done to " ... reporting' allegations of inappropriate behavior by a school employee toward a student" but now it is official.

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396628)

Being a former teacher myself (I left so I could make actual money doing something else), I had fellow teachers who took unprofessional to a whole new level. Getting into relationships with students. Calling students "stupid" in front of the class. Screaming at the principal for refusing to publicly endorse one of the school's former teachers for election to school board. Not only do the other teachers and principal cover all this up, but I learned (fortunately, not the hard way) that doing the ethical thing and ratting out your fellow teachers...will cost you your job and/or teaching certificate. Just like cops and the "blue wall of silence".

Given this wall of silence, I would not put it below some teachers to take legal or disciplinary measures to intimidate and silence students who post true statements about them on Facebook, especially since going to the principal about such things will land at the same dead end as going to Internal Affairs about a bad cop.

Just my $0.02...

witch hunt (4, Insightful)

cthlptlk (210435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396646)

Watch the documentary Witch Hunt (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1196112/ , it is on netflix streaming) to see how incredibly destructive these kinds of claims about pedophilia can be, even if the facts in the accusation are completely absurd. (In another case not covered in the movie, very young students claimed that teachers used a system of underground tunnels to get to a secret dungeon, and this was accepted as fact.) Communities can very easily enter into a kind of mass hysteria and put innocent people in prison. Given the history of things that have happened to teachers in this country, the school policy is not unreasonable.

what happenend to the spanking? (3, Insightful)

PJ6 (1151747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396658)

A while ago these students would get the switch, or a spanking, or whatnot, and everyone would have agreed that it was an appropriate punishment. Now we have everyone getting their lawyer. I know on the face of it one could argue that we're teaching them to use the legal system instead of violence... sounds reasonable, but it just seems wrong to me. It all seems so much more, well... juvenile.
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