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Principal Cancels Classes, Sues Over MySpace Prank 520

Posted by Zonk
from the we've-all-got-priorities dept.
Earnest writes "A prank MySpace page has led to a barrage of lawsuits and the misuse of school resources as the principal targeted by the pranksters attempted to find the perpetrators. In 2005, students at Hickory High School in Pennsylvania created a fake MySpace profile of principal Eric Trosch. As a result, the school's IT staff spent about 25 percent of his work time dealing with the issue and finding the culprits. That's not all. 'Trosch kept at it, even taking measures that led to the "cancellation of computer programming classes as well as usage of computers for research for class projects." Now the basic educational mission of the school was being compromised in order to keep students from visiting these profiles during school hours (students were still free to look at the profiles from home, of course).'"
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Principal Cancels Classes, Sues Over MySpace Prank

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  • Remember.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by C0R1D4N (970153) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:35AM (#18686553)
    Remember the good ol' days when people would just burn effigies of those they didn't like?
    • Or cover their house/car with bog roll.
      • by arivanov (12034) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:10AM (#18686983) Homepage
        Well...

        We used to lift cars on top of 4 garbage bins (of the older metal cylindrical variety). Worked a treat. An old Skoda, Fiat or ZAZ weight under 600 kg so all it took was 10+ determined students and 20 seconds. So the teacher comes out and starts swearing not knowing what to do. The car is perched precariously 1m from the ground and there is no way to get it down without either negotiating with the students (and trusting them that they do not "unintentionally" drop it) or calling in heavy lifting equipment.

        A funnier version of the same prank used to be done in a couple of schools which were located in old turn of the century buildings will proper 6+m wide main staircases and corridors. I know of at least 2 cases where the principal walked out of his office on the second floor to stumble into his skoda "parked" in the corridor.

        And nowdays... Myspace... whimps...
        • by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:34AM (#18687093) Journal
          We used to lift cars on top of 4 garbage bins

          That's nothing. At my high school, we lifted the body of a 1970s era VW Beetle onto the roof of the one-story school! Someone also figured out a way to put steel-belted car tires over the top of the street lights in the parking lot. As a result, the tires were left surrounding the bottom of the street-light pole. Since the tires were steel-belted, you couldn't easily cut them. The school had to bring a crane in to lift the tires back up over the top of the pole.

          And, I had to walk to school. Uphill. BOTH ways. Through snow so deep it covered the top of my head.

        • by Ihlosi (895663) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:28AM (#18687453)
          We used to lift cars on top of 4 garbage bins (of the older metal cylindrical variety). Worked a treat. An old Skoda, Fiat or ZAZ weight under 600 kg



          Didn't you read TFA ? This is America. You're lucky that the students don't weigh 600 kg (yet), and if a car weighs only four times that, it's considered too light and therefore unsafe.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by necrognome (236545) *
            Actually your comment was hilarious, so now I'm posting to unmod my "Overrated" that should have been "Funny". Sigh. Where is the f$cking "unmod" button with the new whizbang posting system!
        • by bossesjoe (675859) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:45AM (#18687627)
          Our Principal used to have this neat Porsche 911 Turbo that he was really proud of. One day we placed an add for it in the local paper, along with providing all the phone extensions, even his office, and address for the school. The best part was we set the price at $12,500 and listed the mileage as 10K, for a two year old Porsche 911 Turbo. The school was swamped the next day with people at the office and bombarding the phone lines trying to get this car, we even had about twenty guys walking around the parking lot checking out the car.
        • by Kabuthunk (972557) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <knuhtubak>> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @12:03PM (#18690373) Homepage
          Perhaps a bit more advanced version of that took place in the University of Manitoba once. The Mechanical Engineering department literally took a prof's car apart and reassembled it in his office when it was left in the lot. Good luck getting THAT out anytime soon :P
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tim Browse (9263)

      Yes.

      I don't understand...they say you're not allowed to have pinatas that look like real people, but in Mexico, we do it all the time.

    • by teknosapien (1012209) <teknosapien@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:55AM (#18687187) Journal
      Shouldn't he be the adult here. The one to take the higher ground. This almost sounds like a school yard fight between two "children". He's probably done more damage whining like a little bitch than if he just ignored it, rather than it being a localized issue hes taken it to the next step.
      • by teh_chrizzle (963897) <kill-9.hobbiton@org> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:11AM (#18687879) Homepage

        This almost sounds like a school yard fight between two "children". He's probably done more damage whining like a little bitch than if he just ignored it

        reminds me of two quotations from mark twain:

        • god made the idiot for practice, and then he made the school board.
        • against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
      • by aarggh (806617) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:25AM (#18688031)
        It always suprises me that a large percentage of people will generally state that the victimised "adult" should "turn the other cheek" and forget it as it's just a bunch of kids. I look at some of the kids in my childrens school and eevn though it's a pretty good, a lot of them are truly vicious and amazingly horrid to other kids for no reason, and usually they are like this for no reason other than they are spoilt little sh*ts who'd run home and cry to their mum if they copped the treament they dished out. Fine and good to say it's just kids being kids, but we aren't talking about putting worms in the microwave, or other similar less soul destroying pranks are we? Until you have been in a situation like this, or even had one of your own kids in this situation like I have, you can't even begin to imagine the complete and utter despair, hopelessness, and complete sense of futility and frustration these victims feel at the hands of these gutless bullies. It actually makes you begin to understand why you read so often about kids that have been pushed to the end of their tether and then go in to school with a gun. The power these cowards attempt to wield at the painful expense of others should not be ignored, Minority groups want to give the kids more rights, we're told kids are equal to and should be treated like adults, discipline and punishment are illegal. WAKE UP! We are talking for the most part about irresponsible, immature, children! We are breeding a generation of hopeless, aimless CHILDREN who are constantly told they have all the rights of adults, but without any of the accompanying responsibility so they learn a healthy respect for others, and life in general. Whether or not the Principal was a prick or not doesn't matter, he and his family have been cruelly and visiously attacked by anonymous and gutless cowards, I say sue the pants off them! Even if he doesn't get any settlement, maybe these brats might learn the idea that actions may have actually have consequences! Theres an idea! And to all the people saying "so what", if it was your little darling that the principal published such guttertrash lies about in an international forum, would you still be saying, "it's only words, don't worry about it and it will go away"? "WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME", what a load of crap! Tell that to a victim of these kids that should be sent to military school for these horrible actions.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kalirion (728907)
          I agree that the principle shouldn't have been expected to turn the other cheek, but he shouldn't have wasted so many school resources on a personal quest for vengeance either. If this guy was the President of the United States he'd probably have decalred martial law and then used the Secret Service and the National Guard to conduct a manhunt for the guy who made fun of him.
        • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @10:49AM (#18689107)

          Whether or not the Principal was a prick or not doesn't matter, he and his family have been cruelly and visiously attacked by anonymous and gutless cowards, I say sue the pants off them!
          I think you are mixing up this incident with bullying, which it is not. It's a fake myspace profile about a principal. It's like passing an insulting note about the teacher around class. Yes it's naughty, yes the offender should be disciplined in some appropriate manner. But when it reaches the point of diverting thousands of dollars in limited educational resources, it starts to smell of personal vendetta. And yes, I do expect more childish behavior from children than pricipals, so don't say it should be the same as if it happened the other way around. I have a defiant child and I know it's frustrating to be defied. But going to the ends of the earth to seek revenge for a minor act just gives the child more power and control. It doesn't sound to me like this principal is on the right path to inspiring excellence in his students.
          • by DeadChobi (740395) <DeadChobi@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @11:34AM (#18689829)
            Which is great until a future employer searches for his Myspace profile and comes up with a number of ones detailing his drug habits and penchant for women's clothing.

            It's one thing to prank someone for something that can be removed, but it's quite another to ruin someone's employability. Would you think it's funny if you went job hunting only to find out that someone you knew was calling all your prospective employers behind your back and telling them all about your drinking binges in college and how much pot you used to smoke?

            What if they had done it to another student? Would you feel the same way? What if the students posted a fake Myspace profile for your child mentioning that he is homosexual and wants to become transgendered, enjoys copious amounts of Heroin and Steroids and frequently has sex with strangers. Is that such a minor act?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ubergenius (918325)

              What if they had done it to another student? Would you feel the same way? What if the students posted a fake Myspace profile for your child mentioning that he is homosexual and wants to become transgendered, enjoys copious amounts of Heroin and Steroids and frequently has sex with strangers. Is that such a minor act?
              For me, yes. As for the employer issue, any employer that uses MySpace profiles to determine the viability of a candidate has a serious issue to be dealt with.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by moochfish (822730)
              As a former principal, you'd think any potential future employers would understand that a myspace profile is:

              a) not real
              b) made by an angry student
              c) a common joke against those in the profession
              d) all of the above

              This is why slander is harder to prove if you're famous. If this guy decided to serve in the public eye, he should be willing to accept that the eye will sometimes draw people who don't like him. The point is, if I find a profile about a congressman on myspace, I don't believe what I read.

              This is
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @11:16AM (#18689537)
          Jesus, you're part of the problem.

          Welcome to the brave new world. Bullies have new tools and methods to use to screw with your precious little child. Either you armed your child with the correct tools to deal with the issue or you didn't. Sounds like you didn't. The environment is going to do things to you and your family that are outside your control, you are helpless. If your child doesn't have established coping mechanisms and the iron will self esteem needed to deal with the harsh environment that you are partially responsible for creating, then you failed.

          It's never going to go backwards. It's never going to be like the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, or 90's again. Peer pressure has taken a new form and uses new routes to reach your children. Crying "OH MY GOD!, You people don't understand what this is doing!" is beyond unproductive - it's fucking moronic.

          Evaluate and counteract, estimate and prepare - get a copy of the Art of War for Christ's sake. Arm your children with the self esteem they need to maneuver through the meat grinder that is school.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by disasm (973689)
          Lighten Up! It's a prank, and it's not even a malicious prank, it's a stupid digital profile on a stupid site that only 13 yr olds go to... The principle does not have the "right" to hunt down the people that put up a fake profile, and especially not with tax payers money. If it bothers him, he's more than welcome to contact the site and request his profile be removed, and create his own profile with the information he wants in it. But good grief, you make it sound like the kids took baseball bats and broke
      • by Strilanc (1077197) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:30AM (#18688091)
        The proper thing to do here is:
        - Ask myspace to take the page down
        - Secretly install keyloggers in the school computers, get the culprit's myspace account, and put furry porn on it
  • by emilv (847905) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:36AM (#18686557)
    I don't think that the principal should have so much power over the IT staff. IT should do his job: keeping the IT services running. He shouldnät waste his time doing private stuff for the principal.
    • IT should just do its job and block myspace.com, then open up only specific sub-URLs as teachers request it for approved coursework.
      • by EvilGrin666 (457869) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:12AM (#18686739) Homepage
        I work in a school doing IT work in the UK and basically, It's not that simple. :)

        Firstly any in-house IT is line managed by the senior management team in the school, this will include the Head Teacher (equivalent to a Principle in the US). So we absolutely have to do what we're asked to. Even if it's silly. Yes, there's PHB syndrome in local education. :)

        Secondly, doing any sort of filtering is not easy. It requires hardware, software and skilled manpower to accomplish. Something underfunded schools are short of.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Managed by the "school senior management team"?

          What?

          If I ever get employed in such a place they WILL fire me in under a week.
          I will NEVER, EVER document what I did to a computer in any way more extended than "I had to buy this part. Here is a receipt for accounting and warranty." I will always keep each and every computer running and tweaked Just Right though.

          And what is that if not a school dictator? He had the IT team spend time tracking a prank? Please PLEASE tell me that clinical signs of megalomania ar
          • As for filtering... anyone with half a brain can type "SSL tunnel" or something in google.
            Nope sorry, no dice there. The kids and I are way ahead of you. :) We only allow HTTPS to domains on a whitelist.
          • by joto (134244)

            If I ever get employed in such a place they WILL fire me in under a week. I will NEVER, EVER document what I did to a computer in any way more extended than "I had to buy this part. Here is a receipt for accounting and warranty." I will always keep each and every computer running and tweaked Just Right though.

            Ok, so you will probably do a better job in a private company were IT is vital to operations. No big deal. Different people do different jobs.

            And what is that if not a school dictator?

            The school

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tehSpork (1000190)
          I can block myspace using the $50 Linksys router I use at home, it doesn't require much equipment or knowledge. As far as I can tell, myspace also does not have very many IPs and from what I have seen they are all located in the same range. Though flat out blocking 255 addresses to eliminate one site isn't generally a good idea, it gets the job done if you're in a hurry or are an unskilled IT administrator.

          If you have access to a linux box, I like to use iptables to redirect myspace to something more int
    • by stuffman64 (208233) <stuffman&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:20AM (#18686787) Homepage
      Well, I graduated high school 6 years ago, from the school right next to Hickory High. It's not a big area, and when we say "IT Department" we usually mean one guy who manages the computer labs and the classroom computers, and student assistants. There's a district supervisor who helps out with big issues (I wonder if it's still Scott... he was a cool guy). Most of the technical solutions such as firewalls, etc. are barebones to meet bugetary constraints, so I wouldn't imagine it hard to bypass. There's only so much you can do on a limited budget with limited resources. I know my IT guy also taught two classes (there were only 4 periods in a day at my school), so a lot of the work was left up to the "technology assistants" (i.e., me). Hickory was a little larger than my school, but I doubt they had significantly more resources than we did. I doubt that there was so much going on there that the IT guy was stressed doing this "extra" work. Hell, we spent most of the time just trying to think of stuff to do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gmack (197796)
      The IT department and principal made the wrong move. What they should have done is complained to myspace then the stupid (and obviously TOS violating) pages would have been taken down and there would be nothing for the other students to see. Much easier than a filtering proxy.

      Instead they left the site up for all to see and sat there obsessively watching it. The result is that it was more entertaining for the other students and the ones who created the sites get to know just how pissed off they made the
  • by FredDC (1048502) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:36AM (#18686559)
    The principal seems to be such a nice guy! *rolls eyes*

    He was probably just pissed because someone managed to create a page about him on myspace, while he had been desperately trying to do the same but couldn't fit his ego onto the page...
    • by richlv (778496) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:38AM (#18686569)
      and, if normally some of the students would have seen the page, now whole world will see it. nicely done, eric !
    • ...but let me defend the principal, at least on some grounds.

      These teenagers, as well as most teenagers in general, do not understand and will not consider implications of their actions before doing something stupid. They especially don't understand that when you post something on the internet, it is a form of publication; the world is able to read what you wrote. Purposefully publishing lies in printed form with the willful intent to harm someone's reputation is called slander, and is punishable by law. These kids clearly did exactly that. The principal's daughter was emotionally distraught when she discovered the pages, as well as the principal. The student's work was malicious in nature. An apology isn't going to make up for the harm that was done.

      I will agree that the principal overreacted in regards to obliterating access to a computer in the school, but I can understand where his anger is coming from.
      • by bloobloo (957543) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:18AM (#18687959) Homepage
        No, spoken defamation is slander. Published defamation is libel. If a reasonable person would not believe a statement, then damage to reputation can not occur and hence it is not defamatory. For example, you could argue that a reasonable person would not believe a MySpace page purporting to be from a school principal admitting to being a paedophile, and so it would not be defamatory. I can say "George Bush told me that he has sex with goats" and this is not defamatory because it is ridiculous.
      • The principal's daughter was emotionally distraught when she discovered the pages, as well as the principal. The student's work was malicious in nature. An apology isn't going to make up for the harm that was done.

        To quote the great Dennis Miller, "Life is tough, get a helmet."

        I agree that this was a juvenile and "typically teenager" thing to do, but this guy is out of his mind by reacting in the way that he is (and has). I mean, come on, "emotionally distraught"?? Geez, who in this world hasn

      • by Maestro4k (707634) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @10:41AM (#18688995) Journal

        These teenagers, as well as most teenagers in general, do not understand and will not consider implications of their actions before doing something stupid. They especially don't understand that when you post something on the internet, it is a form of publication; the world is able to read what you wrote. Purposefully publishing lies in printed form with the willful intent to harm someone's reputation is called slander, and is punishable by law. These kids clearly did exactly that.

        While I think you're over-generalizing a tad (I've met teens that were much smarter than college students so not all teens are idiots), I would dare say it's the principal's job to assist in the education of the teens in his school, including the one who put up the fake MySpace profile. Exactly what type of lesson has he taught them from all of this? That adults act like a bunch of kids fighting on the playground when insulted? That even the principal, the highest authority in their school will act like a total idiot and neglect his job duties to go on a personal vendetta when he discovers his students are insulting him? Sure what the kid did was libel (not slander, slander's spoken), but the principal has completely failed in his duties and provided a perfectly horrible example to ALL of his students, not just the one who put up the fake profile. There's no defending that part, suing over the libel? Sure, not a problem. Diverting school resources to a personal vendetta? Now that's a major problem, and much worse than the libel the kid did because it affected the education of every damn kid in the school.

        One thing you failed to mention is that the kid created the libelous profile from home, not from one of the school's computers. The principal used pretty much all of the school's computing resources to go on a personal vendetta against the kids (the one who created the profile plus students posting comments on it). I'd say neither one was considering the implications of their actions ahead of time.

        The principal's daughter was emotionally distraught when she discovered the pages, as well as the principal.

        So sue, don't disrupt the entire damn school and fuck up the education of hundreds of kids just because you were "emotionally distraught". We pay teachers, and principals even more so, to deal with this type of stuff and to educate our kids. Also think about what's happened with this thanks to the principal's over reaction. How emotionally distraught do you think his daughter is about his looking like a total ass in front of the entire nation now? What's worse is he can't blame this on libel, people are going to look at his actions and come to their own conclusions, but many are going to think he's acting like a spoiled brat.

        The student's work was malicious in nature. An apology isn't going to make up for the harm that was done.

        You kinda contradict yourself here, how can "the student's work [be] malicious in nature" if he "do[es] not understand and [did] not consider [the] implications of their actions before doing something stupid"? You can't have it both ways, if they didn't understand then it wasn't malicious, if they did understand then it was. In the first case I think an apology would have worked just fine, IF the principal hadn't over reacted and escalated this into a much larger issue than it could have been. Now that he's managed to drag it into the national spotlight I suppose an apology won't cut it, but neither will winning a lawsuit against the student get his reputation back. He's earned a new reputation for himself, one not based on the profile's libelous claims at all, and this reputation isn't beneficial to him either.

        I will agree that the principal overreacted in regards to obliterating access to a computer in the school, but I can understand where his anger is coming from.

  • Too sensitive.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MLease (652529) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:36AM (#18686563)
    Ok, I can see why he wouldn't want students looking at it during school time, but I think the real reason he went after them was his own ego. Students do waste time at school, and adults waste time at work, but do you really think he would have pulled out all the stops if this page wasn't aimed at him?

    -Mike
    • by hey! (33014)
      Everybody's got an ego. It's easy to dismiss the impact of something like this if its not aimed at you. You're probably going to make better decisions about injuries to other people than injuries to yourself, which is why we normally try people with an impartial jury and judge rather than let the victims play those roles.

      In such cases, schools probably should have some independent discipline procedure to relieve the principal.

      Overreaction is probably worse than underreaction. Some kids are going to act
  • Closet freak? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Belakiss (1046318) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:37AM (#18686567) Homepage
    How insecure does this guy have to be to sue students? Can't he just try to suspend them for a few days or make them clean the school toilets with tooth brushes? I bet he sucks his thumb at night too.
    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      Can't he just try to suspend them for a few days or make them clean the school toilets with tooth brushes?
      If I were him, I'd make them to that. Albeit with their own toothbrushes, and then make sure that they had to use them to brush their teeth afterwards, and that everyone knew about it. Ha ha :-)
    • Breakfast club (Score:3, Interesting)

      by porkThreeWays (895269)
      I think he needs to talk to the janitor from the breakfast club to give him some insight on life.
  • by onion2k (203094) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:44AM (#18686583) Homepage
    I don't see the relevance of it being a MySpace profile. When I was at school (12 years ago) MySpace didn't exist and yet the head teacher still had cause to gather all the pupils together once or twice to try to ascertain the culprits behind a fake, and horribly libelous, newsletter detailing the fictious activities of some of the teaching staff. It was produced by some malicious students and distributed around the classrooms. Exactly the same thing, just in a less connected world.

    This issue is about the discipline of students, dealing with a prank in an appropriate manner, and ultimately finding the reason why some people find it funny to be disrespectful to someone (hopefully) dedicated to improving their future. If MySpace, or even the internet itself, vanished overnight it'd still happen as much as it does now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "This issue is about the discipline of students, dealing with a prank in an appropriate manner, and ultimately finding the reason why some people find it funny to be disrespectful to someone (hopefully) dedicated to improving their future."

      Are you kidding me?

      People find it funny to be disrespectful to people in power. Why? Because frequently those people use that power badly. They earn that disrespect.

      c.f. "President of the United States."
      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:29AM (#18686833) Journal
        "People find it funny to be disrespectful to people in power."

        Yeah but it takes a "court jester" to pull it off. The real problem (as others have pointed out) would seem to be that the entire staff were seemingly unaware they could selectively block prank sites. The egomaniac should be sacked for gross incompetence and just plain childish behaviour. The rest of the staff should be enrolled in basic computer classes, not left in charge of running them.

        Sure the little brats will see it as a victory, right up until they get a new headmaster and loose access to myspace on the same day.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Honestly, most of the authority figures I had in school were petty tyrants who flunked out of whatever programs they were in to college to go to the School of Teaching. They were insecure about themselves but felt that it was OK to make life miserable for the students who were required to go through the system.

      The future I built for myself was because of myself and accomplished in spite of the roadblocks that these sort of people put up for me, not because of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:49AM (#18686599)
    Why does every little problem now have to be solved by the court? Common sense, compromise (or in the case of kids, discipline by parents and teachers) used to solve petty things like this.
    • 2 reasons: Money and intimidation.

      The obvious one is to press damages. Why bother working if you can get a ton more money by suing someone? I know people who call someone who had a horrible accident "lucky" because now they might be down a leg, but boy, are they rich now!

      And intimidation. Shut up or I drag you to court. People still have it in their mind that someone who's on the defendant's chair has to be at least a little bit guilty, or he wouldn't be there. Well, in a criminal court that might be a litt
      • RTFA before posting crap. This is the 3rd lawsuit, first he was sued by the parents and won, then the parents sued him a second time which is not over yet, now he's suing them back.
  • by marto (110299) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:49AM (#18686609)
    "cancellation of computer programming classes as well as usage of computers for research for class projects."

    Nice to see that this guy holds the student's education as a high priority. Who needs to be able to search the web for research purposes or to lean how to code?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by repvik (96666)
      Your comment, combined with the nugget in the bottom right corner got me laughing me ass off.
      Screenshot [kynisk.com]
    • by FredDC (1048502)
      Who needs to be able to search the web for research purposes or to lean how to code

      Exactly! You could only use the knowledge you would gain for evil purposes anyway, like creating myspace.com!
  • ...would have blocked *.myspace.com at the firewall level, if their nazi content filter didn't already do it for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rob_Warwick (789939)
      FTFA:

      Trosch and the school's IT person attempted to block MySpace, but students were "backdooring a fire wall and getting into" it anyway.
      I wonder if students were actually comprimising their firewall, or if they were just using a proxy or something like that.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        IT staff at schools are notoriously bad. I worked a while as a "computer" teacher (and as such had no control over the IT infrastructure) Their "fancy" squid filter did keyword filtering in the URLs + blocking of certain domain names. So, stuff with "game", "sex", whatever was blocked as was stuff like myspace.

        The workaround? Simple: use the IP address directly: immediate pass. No, I didn't tell the IT staff that they should fix it. I did tell my students how to get around it, hoping that the IT s

      • by bhtooefr (649901)
        Seems like layman's speak for using a proxy, yes.

        I won't deny that the firewall at my work has plenty of ways around it. That's not the point - above the filtering that our ISP does (which goes well beyond CIPA minimums - sometimes to levels where it actively hinders learning, due to overfiltering - and yes, we've tried to get them to unblock the relevant categories - and no, we can't switch ISPs,) we block specific sites that we don't want students to access manually.

        If students do get around the firewalls
      • by EvilGrin666 (457869) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:23AM (#18686801) Homepage
        I work in a UK school doing IT support so I have a front line view of what happens.

        At a county level we have a fitler that works on basic URL blocking. It's called 'SmartFilter' and it's definately not very 'Smart'. Pupils can easily evade this filter by using CGI:Proxy [jmarshall.com], PHPProxy [sourceforge.net], Google Translate or Google Cache for example. Basically as long as the url doesn't match something in it's blacklist, it gets through.

        Therefore, at a school level I have implmented a Linux/Squid based proxy with a content filter called DansGuardian [dansguardian.org]. It's a lot more intelligent about filtering and works along the same lines as antispam filters. As well as domain/url blocking it allows grey listing based on the content of the web pages being pulled through it. You assign words or phrases a numerical value and if the page hits a certain score then it's blocked. As the filter is no longer simply relying on the domains/urls this solves the proxy problem.

        Yes, some stuff will always get through, I think the above solution is about as good as it gets currently.
  • by nietsch (112711) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @05:58AM (#18686657) Homepage Journal

    Now Trosch, who has since moved schools within the district, is suing the students involved in the 2005 caper, arguing that his reputation was damaged and his earning potential was affected.

    Ii wonder if he is going to sue himself next, as he was the one that created the circumstances for this damage. It was not the students actions (some childish prank that was rather unremarkable) but his own ego that led to the damage to his 'earning potential'. Maybe he didn't understand the meaning of the word earn: his egotrip earned him ridicule, which is a just reward for him /methinks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb (229885)
      I'm not so sure it was an unremarkable prank. Sure, maybe everything on MySpace is unremarkable (or should be considered so), but they made allegations of (amongst other things) paedophilia. That's a big deal nowadays and even the allegation of such can have very serious consequences.

      The remarks about earning potential is something you put in court cases - he's not got much case for a civil suit is he said 'and there was no ill effect on me'.

      If you consider it to be an egotrip, consider if you'd like a MySp
  • Oh noes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by FooBarWidget (556006) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:01AM (#18686679)
    Quick! Tell the principle to sign up for ReputationDefender.com [slashdot.org]!
  • This sounds more like some low production 80s high school comedy (in an alternate universe where myspace exists) than real life. How come this sort of absurd stuff only seems to happen in the States (incidents that I know of anyway). Any sane person wouldn't give two shits about this and get on with his/her life.
  • Better approach (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gedeco (696368) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:42AM (#18686871)
    principal targeted by the pranksters attempted to find the perpetrators

    It would be wiser to monitor the school network to identify the people who where capable to modify the specific webpage. You could make the phrank die out silently, or convert the page to a more friendly nature.

    The principal, he has diserved this. Being so immature.
  • by Bob54321 (911744) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:57AM (#18686933)
    Can someone tell me if this is really news from 2005... or has something important actually happened?
  • by wesley78 (1086999) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @06:58AM (#18686935)
    if he'd simply asked Myspace to remove the offending pages. http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=misc.f aq&Category=9&Question=39 [myspace.com] If he'd done that instead of making such a big deal of the matter, he wouldn't have brought so much attention to his little problem.
  • by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:01AM (#18686951) Homepage
    There are all kinds of bad things posted about me on the web. Who cares?

    People should be abllowed to post anything they want on the Internet. It is not the same as other printed media.

    IMO if it isn't markedly obvious that the source is a cooperation or employed by someone, then everything on the Internet should be assumed to be hearsay and thus immune from libel. You know "freedom of speech" and all???

    Seriously - what is the difference between a blog posting and sticking a flyter on a telephone pole? Would you give one more credibility than another? If so - WHY?!?!

    People need to be made aware than anyone can, and will, make a face MySpace / Facebook / Whatever claiming to be you. That's Just the plain truth. If you have a problem with that then unplug your PC and go back to your telegraph. I have a metric crapload of derogatory things on me out on the web in various locations. Did I go sue every one of them? Of course not. Cause I have a backbone.

    There are KIDS. It doesn't matter if the site is taken down or not cause they're making fun of the principal and teachers 24/7 behind their backs anyways, cause it's the fun thing to do. If this guy is really that sensitive to what a 12 year old thinks about him he is in the wrong job.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thesandtiger (819476)
      I care about what gets said about me online because it can directly impact my ability to earn a living and limit, in some cases, the opportunities I have for social and professional interactions.

      Employers, clients, peers in various organizations all now routinely Google people they come into contact with. How would you feel if your boss came up to you on Monday and said "Oh, sorry, Brune - we have to let you go. See, a client of ours googled you and someone put a page up about you being a pedophile. I know
  • hypocrites R us (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@devinm o o r e .com> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:17AM (#18687017) Homepage Journal
    I bet there are 100 kids at his school, whose actual myspace pages are being "bullied", and yet he wants to put all this effort into stopping a fake page about himself. Get a grip, and help the student victims of harassment!
  • Moron Principal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daeg (828071) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:07AM (#18687275)
    No, kids! Don't look at my fake MySpace profile! I demand you don't! I'm really, really, serious!!

    By over-reacting he has called far more attention on himself and, in turn, the school district and community at large. And not the good kind of attention.

    He should have just gone with it, and had fun with it. And maybe, just maybe, use it as an easy-to-access tool to assess what the students think of his methodology? I know, criticism is a lost art.

    Personally, I would have just created a fake profile of the kid that made it and photoshopped him to wear a frilly pink tutu and had a good laugh with the kid (whilst dodging his parents).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LihTox (754597)
      He should have just gone with it, and had fun with it.

      That would work if they said "He's fat and bald" or made him look like a monkey or something like that, but it sounds like the page labelled him as a pedophile among other things. In this day and age, that's not a laughing matter: he can't start playing along with that: "Oh yeah, I really like to have sex with students, don't tell anyone." The suspicion of pedophilia could be enough to ruin his career and his life.

      Yeah, he overreacted big time (and his
  • by starX (306011) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:21AM (#18687381) Homepage
    Clearly the students have crossed the line, even they admit that, but whereas in days gone by rumors and advertisements might be spread within the school, any internet presence making such claims can be classified as slander and defamation of character. The principal is, IMO, well within his rights to file suite, and in a world where no one gets hired without an employer doing a google search on them, I can completely understand why he feels it necessary to exercise those rights. These kids might think they were playing a harmless prank, but it's had real world consequences, and the sooner they learn to appreciate those consequences, the better we'll all be.
  • by Broofa (541944) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:49AM (#18687661) Homepage

    Statement from Justin Layshock's parents on why they brought suit [aclupa.org]

    Original MySpace page created by Justin Layshock [aclupa.org]

    To say the principal and school board are overreacting would be putting it mildly.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:51AM (#18688349) Homepage Journal
    everyone at the school go put up a fake page.

    Everyone on slashdot put a fake page of this guy somewhere.

    Pretty son everybody will relize what it is, a joke.
  • by plurgid (943247) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:59AM (#18688447)
    Seriously.

    Think for a minute what it's like to be a MALE teacher, in an overwhelmingly FEMALE dominated arena. I had two male teachers growing up. One of them was involved in a real sex scandal. The other was an incredibly gifted math and computer science teacher with mediocre social skills. He was a geek, and into computers, and shy ... so it was just socially assumed he was some kind of pedophile or something. He quit after one year (I'm guessing because of the rumors and such). Thanks to that, I never got to take a real programming course in high school (he was the only teacher with the backgrouind for it ... it was a small town school in the 80's).

    So. You've been in this game long enough to make it up to administrator, and principal. All it takes is a *HINT* of impropriety to get your ass fired by the school board.

    So some smartass teenagers make a myspace page about you ... not the flattering kind. You don't know anything about computers. Your IT guy (apparently) dosen't know anything about computers.

    What would YOU do? You have a family to support, this is your livelihood.

    Not saying everything the guy did was right, but try that shoe on the other foot for a minute. I think I understand where he was coming from.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @11:52AM (#18690133)
    The school system, with the exception of a few special teachers, is an exercise in mind-programming. --Specifically, making sure that people grow up with a powerful, nearly hard-wired respect for authority and control systems. Training kids to be good little workers.

    I barely survived high school exactly because of crazy authority figures. I was never rude, I was never mean-spirited. I simply came to the realization that school was 95% boring, brain-washing busy-work and stopped attending all but one class which I needed in order to graduate and get my 'piece of paper'. I'd already been accepted into the college of my choice, so the whole graduating process was purely a formality. I figured, "Why waste my time going to a bunch of classes I sleep through anyway?"

    Many of the teachers didn't even notice. A few of the cool ones said, "Yeah. That makes sense. Good luck!"

    A remaining clutch of staff members, however, perceived my actions as a personal attack of the worst sort and made it a top priority to prevent me from graduating. It had nothing to do with rules and everything to do with what they thought of as disrespectful behavior on my part. They thought I was cheating the system, which I suppose I was. (But then, I figured that the system was cheating everybody, so I wasn't about to feel guilty about not jumping through a bunch of silly hoops.)

    I remember teachers saying, "But you'll get failing marks!" And I remember saying, "And. . ? Do you really believe I'm going to let a piece of paper stop me from traveling the world and doing all the things I want to do in life? If an employer is unable to see me for who I am without consulting my high school grades, then why on earth would I want to work for such a person? Whatever job they are offering is probably going to be more of the same stuff they pace kids with in high school anyway. No thanks."

    "But you'll only ever be able to work as a cashier. As a burger flipper!"

    "No. That's only true if you believe it, which I don't. --I spent last Summer working at a cool company which I found simply by walking in off the street to visit. I expressed keen interest in learning about what they did, and they let me hang around and help out. By the end of the Summer, they'd offered me a high-paying full-time position with lots of growth potential. I turned it down so I could come back here and finish my high school off and get my piece of paper. How foolish was that?" (I'd been conned into believing that the school system and its graduating certificates actually meant something. That programming took some time to undo, by which point I was already in the last third of the last year and pulling my hair out.)

    Anyway, they were really upset that somebody would dare point out the flaws in the edifice of the 'unquestionable authority' which the school system was supposed to represent, and which they felt children must yield to, kneel before, fear and be willing to jump through hoops for. Instead, I just looked at it and yawned. This made some of the adults in charge fume with rage and indignation. I still don't fully understand why.

    My parents were called, legalities were threatened, they tried to make me sign agreements through physical intimidation. It was all very strange. --I remember around the same time, one fellow in a suit who I'd never seen before, actually chased me down the hall, grabbed me by the arm and blustered in my face, "When you are a professional, you will understand that you cannot criticize another professional!" (Or something to that effect.) --I'd made the mistake of reading and laughing at a posted flyer for a course he was apparently in charge of and which I thought was ridiculous. I laughingly explained why I thought so to a friend, and bluster-man happened to be standing right behind me.

    Maybe, deep down, such people know that they have ridiculous, frustratingly broken job descriptions and rather than just deal with it honestly or change things, they instead try to

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