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Students Suspended, Expelled Over Facebook Posts 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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Students Suspended, Expelled Over Facebook Posts

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  • Re:question (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:38AM (#35396426) Journal
    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.
  • by Collapsing Empire ( 1268240 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:40AM (#35396448) Journal

    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:question (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @09:53AM (#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.


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


    > 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).


  • by fygment ( 444210 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:02AM (#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.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:04AM (#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.

  • by qengho ( 54305 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:05AM (#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.

  • by BizzyM ( 996195 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:10AM (#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:Public school? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @10:12AM (#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.

  • by Fulminata ( 999320 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @12:04PM (#35397438)
    Even were I to admit that teachers teach half as much as they did 25 years ago (which I don't), it would only be to point out that it's because they have twice as many non-teaching responsibilities as they did back then. As budgets have been cut more and more non-teaching responsibilities have been put on the shoulders of teachers. Janitorial services in many districts have been cut, making teachers responsible for cleaning their own classrooms, and sometimes even common areas. Lower level administrative services in many districts have been cut, making teachers responsible for filling out paperwork that used to be handled by school secretaries. Special education programs have been cut, making regular teachers responsible for handling special discipline problems that were previously handled by specialists so that the regular teachers could get on with teaching the regular students.

    Of course, class sizes have increased, making the amount of teaching per student go down significantly, but that's not the teachers' fault, and gives the teacher a bigger workload in terms of grading and the like, without any positive return for the students.

    Stop blaming teachers for the failure of our educational system and start putting the blame on those responsible: politicians and voters that set policies and refuse to allocate adequate funding.
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @04:26PM (#35399696) Journal

    No, the Supreme Court backs up schools taking action independent of any police activity.

    Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), when the Supreme Court decided that "conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason - whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior - materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech."

    You're taking that bit of dicta from Tinker v. Des Moines completely out of context. The phrase "in class" is a reference to the classroom as opposed to the larger school campus, not a reference to at the school rather than completely off the grounds of the school. Here's the whole paragraph:

    The principle of these cases is not confined to the supervised and ordained discussion which takes place in the classroom. The principal use to which the schools are dedicated is to accommodate students during prescribed hours for the purpose of certain types of activities. Among those activities is personal intercommunication among the students. [note 6] This is not only an inevitable part of the process of attending school; it is also an important part of the educational process. A student's rights, therefore, do not embrace merely the classroom hours. When he is in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on [513] the campus during the authorized hours, he may express his opinions, even on controversial subjects like the conflict in Vietnam, if he does so without "materially and substantially interfer[ing] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school" and without colliding with the rights of others. Burnside v. Byars, supra, at 749. But conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason--whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior--materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright