Dissing a teacher on Facebook is okay
A teenage girl’s rants about her teacher on Facebook are protected as free speech.
A federal judge in Florida came down on the side of the First Amendment with his ruling. A 17-year-old student, Katie Evans, was suspended from Pembroke Pines Charter Schools in 2007 for 3 days. She also didn’t get into Advanced Placement Classes. Why? She set up a Facebook page in “honor” of “the worst teacher I’ve ever met.”
Evans later sued the principal, saying the punishment was not justified and would have a damaging effect on her career.
Late last week, a judge denied the principal’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. Magistrate Judge Barry Garber also ruled the principal COULD be forced to pay damages if Evans prevails at the trial.
Garber said the teen’s action “falls under the wide umbrella of protected speech. It was an opinion of a student about a teacher, that was published off-campus, did not cause any disruption on-campus, and was not lewd, vulgar, threatening, or advocating illegal or dangerous behavior.”
Evans is now a journalism student at the University of Florida.
The Facebook page is not up, but Evans mentioned the teacher by name on the site.
She referred to her teacher’s “insane antics” and encouraged others to express their “feelings of hatred” by adding their own comments to the page.
Judge says that’s okay. What do you say?