I've just come across yet another case that calls into question just how involved a school should be when it comes to disciplining cyber bullying. A student in Florida is suing her former principal after she was suspended back in 2007 for creating a Facebook criticizing one of her teachers. The page, which was up only for a few days, had current and past students commenting on the teacher's abilities, some for and some against.

Two months later, the student, Katherine Evans, was called into her principal's office where she faced a 3 day suspension. However, Evans says this was a breech of her First Amendment right to freedom of speech and is seeking out a nominal fee.

Was the school right in punishing Evans for her use of Facebook as a means of cyber bullying, or does freedom of speech outweigh this case of censorship?

For the full article, please visit Kiwi Commons.

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Comment by Dr. Rita Oates on February 23, 2010 at 8:01am
What prompted the student to do this? Is it true that she plagiarized an assignment and was caught, and this was her way of "getting back" at the teacher who caught her? Part of the story is missing. (If her cheating is true, does it change your views at all about this case?)

A teacher in Pennsylvania writes an interesting opinion piece on what lessons are needed:

Here's a link to the news story from the New York Times:

Here's something from American Bar Association Journal:

Finally, an article from the Miami Herald, which was cited by several others:

This case provides lots of opportunity for interesting discussion with high school students!
Comment by Kiwi Commons on February 25, 2010 at 1:36pm
This particular case has me pretty torn between the two sides. While I don't believe in censorship of any kind, I also feel that there are certain lines that should not be crossed, and writing demeaning or harassing messages in a Facebook group is not exactly okay in my books either.

However, in an article I also read that the Facebook group was taken down after a few days and the student's punishment came 2 months after the fact. Was the punishment still relevant two months later? I'm not so sure, but it is definitely up to the administration to decide that.

I agree that a case like this one could provide some interesting discussion with high school kids. Do you feel that Evans was punished fairly, or was the school a bit out of hand? If the courts do side with Evans, how could this change the role of administration in schools?


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