Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Facebook, Teacher Bullying, and Lawsuits

A girl who attended a Miami High School is suing her old school for suspending her for cyberbullying. Katherine Evans (now a college freshman) wrote about a teacher she didn't like on Facebook, and opened a forum for other students to complain about that same teacher. She is suing because she is afraid that the charge of cyberbullying will not get her into a good graduate school or get her a job. The ACLU is even stepping in to support her cause (for the sake of disclosure, I am a card carrying member). Her exact words on Facebook here as follows:

''Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I've ever met! To those select students who have had the displeasure of having Ms. Sarah Phelps, or simply knowing her and her insane antics: Here is the place to express your feelings of hatred.''

I understand there is freedom of speech, and there is really nothing wrong with students talking trash about teachers amongst other students (especially if it is, in fact, a bad teacher). But I also see the school board's point of view. It is one thing to trash talk a teacher, but to do it on something so public as Facebook is another thing. Maybe I am more sympathetic to the cause of the school because I worry that when I start teaching, some student who has a beef with me is going to write bad stuff about me all over the internet. But it is not like this is ever going to go away. Has anyone seen RateMyTeachers?

Perhaps Ms. Evans should not have been suspended, and she definitely shouldn't have been pulled out of her AP classes. But as to whether or not she won't get into a good grad school or not, let me just reassure her she will probably be ok. It was a relatively minor thing she did in high school, and she is now in college. All she needs to do is get good grades, and involve herself in some positive activities in college that will help out her resume (college clubs, internship, etc). A lawsuit isn't worth it.

No comments: