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Students Suspended, Expelled Over Facebook Posts 669

Posted by samzenpus
from the reading-writing-and-rhetoric dept.
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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Students Suspended, Expelled Over Facebook Posts

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  • by geekmux (1040042) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:37AM (#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.

  • Re:Cellphones (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mangu (126918) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:41AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:43AM (#35396472)

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

  • by perlith (1133671) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:49AM (#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.
  • Facts v. Opinions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:54AM (#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

  • Re:They deserved it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by espiesp (1251084) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:34AM (#35396760)

    You are missing a big point here. Saying somebody is a pedophile or rapist in ANY public forum whether it be the internet or a posting on the bulletin board at the local grocery store, is a VERY serious accusation that can cause lasting repercussions for the person. If that person happens to be a teacher it makes it greatly more amplified. The internet hasn't changed that, just made it easier to spread the word.

    Something else the internet does is remove a lot of plausible deniability. If you scribble it on a bathroom stall wall, it's much less likely to come back to bite you - and is also less likely to be taken seriously because well, it's anonymous. If you post it on your password protected facebook wall? Prepare for the pain train.

    While I'm generally on the side of freedom of speech and lack of censorship on the internet, there are still some lines that can be crossed. This is one of them. And these kids need a lesson in what not to say to blow off steam about a teacher or your school.

  • by meatspray (59961) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:37AM (#35396776) Homepage

    Sure, they're going to sue. It's one of our core values you know? Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the Ineffable right to drag anyone you disagree with though court, beat them up with your abundant supply of money and time until you get your way or they give you a fat check to make you go away.

    It's the schools job to keep the place safe and clean and educational. That means they need to kick out asshats and verified wolf criers, and they had damn well do their job or they'll end up with a wholly different six-pack of lawsuits when then fail to kick a real pedo teacher to the curb.

    My favorite part is where they're saying the principal violated their privacy by making them log in to facebook at the school. You posted a severely damning lie about an agent of the school on a pseudo-public social website and now you're worried about your privacy?

    Suspended for 10 days is a puny slap on the wrist. Yes Honor Roll students screw up too, and just because they generally do the write thing doesn't mean they shouldn't be punished, people need to wake up, children need appropriate and sane levels of discipline or they turn in to jack-asses later in life.

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:57AM (#35396884)

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

    It is never safe to generalize about U.S. state law.

    Colorado is one of 17 states with a criminal libel statute, which is different from the civil libel laws in all 50 states that allow victims of allegedly defamatory statements to seek compensation from speakers. Criminal libel laws allow the state to fine or imprison speakers of defamatory statements.

    Former high school student pleads guilty to criminal libel [splc.org] [2006]

  • Re:Facts v. Opinions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zelucifer (740431) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:03AM (#35396936)

    One of the most important parts of libel, and one that you overlooked, is that libelous statements have to be believable. Would anyone in there right mind believe that this teacher is really a pedophile, based on a bunch of students calling him a "pedophile", "bipolar" and other statements in that vein?

  • by crath (80215) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @12:00PM (#35397406) Homepage

    In today's legal and social environment, what these school kids did is sufficient grounds for the slanderred adult male to be fired, jailed, and be barred from contact with their children; all without any presumption of innocence (on the part of the justice system). In this case, the principal intervened and instead of the male teacher being persecuted the school children were punished.

    Society has to make a choice: adults accused of sexual crimes against children must either be presumed innocent until proven guilty; or, those falsely accusing others of such crimes must be severely punished. At the moment, society is chosing the latter course; and so, explusion of the child is the minimum punishment one should expect.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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