Facebook used as grounds for suspension..

I am sure most people are enjoying their spring breaks, but with my vacay not starting until tomorrow I was reading over the local news and found a story regarding a boy in Oak Forest who made a facebook group expressing his negative feelings on a teacher for other students to join and post on.  No posts were made, but the group did receive 50 fans.  On February 14th the student deleted the page only to be called into the principals office on February 15th and was suspended for five days.  The student was on high-honors and has never had any disciplinary issues in the past, but this will now appear on his records.

For me, this is getting way too close, if not crossing the line of Freedom of Speech by the student.  Do you think that the student has the right to express his views via Facebook or that this is something that could be grounds for lible or defamation of the teacher?

Another major issue with this case is the growing trend of schools extending their reach of discipline to the students at home.  Since this was done out of school and not on school grounds whatsoever, does the school even have the grounds to be addressing this activity?   Do you think Facebook can be used as grounds for discipline in school-related scenarios?  What is the major difference between this and a teacher posting a status that refers to their students in a negative light?  Should that be something that a school/university has the right to monitor?

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5 thoughts on “Facebook used as grounds for suspension..

  1. “Allycoop”:

    I assume this was a public page and that the student specifically referred to his instructor. Unlike your “teacher posting a status” example, in this case there is little anonymity. The fact FIFTY students joined together to target ONE teacher suggests that the young man’s action could prove contrary to the academic mission of the high school — which, I believe, is subject to suspension.

    I think a school/university has every right to monitor this. If that same student had led a demonstration against a certain faculty member on grounds associated with the school (kinda like, hmmmm, a Facebook page), he’d face disciplinary action. The fact he deleted the Facebook group has no relevance for me — like the demonstration example, it happened and you cannot simply erase the memory (or influence) of it. Legislative consistency is appropriate here.

  2. Personally, I feel that unless the teacher’s life was threatened or false claims were made about him (as in the example of RateMyProfessor.com we talked about in class), this is simply a student bitching about school. What other point does Facebook serve besides giving people a megaphone to shout into the darkness? If the teacher opposed the page, it should have been addressed but a 5 day suspension is a huge punishment.

    Also, it seems unethical to me that a school can monitor students’ online activities. This wasn’t a problem in my high school, but I have heard about it in other places. It just seems like an invasion of privacy and crossing a line that shouldn’t include school.

  3. Kevin,
    One key thing that makes this story different than the protest on school grounds is in terms of the fact this was NOT done on school time or on school grounds. I really think that actions done outside of school are not grounds for the student to be disciplined through the school unless they are under some other academic contract (such as athletic programs specifically indicating that drinking will result in suspension in the program). Where is the line drawn for what a school has control over?

    – “ALLISON”

  4. I’m curious to know what exactly was said about the teacher. You mentioned in your summary that he made a page “expressing his negative feelings.” Your feelings about anything should be protected, especially on a social networking site like Facebook. That’s what Facebook is for; to rant and rave about whatever you like. I definitely think the student lacked good judgment in making the fan page (especially if he’s an Honors Student) but I don’t think you can punish someone for expressing their feelings online through a non-academic website. (I say non-academic because it’s not sponsored by the school nor is it regulated directly by the school, but I’m sure someone will fight me on that description. Ha!)

  5. I personally think it was unfair for this student to be suspended for what he said on Facebook regarding his teacher. This incident occurred off campus and in the privacy of the students home. I thought the whole point of Facebook was for one to be able to express their thoughts and opinion’s without being held accountable? It’s scary to think that a teacher/professor has the right to look on a student’s Facebook profile and use this as grounds for suspension. A line needs to be drawn to protect students from what an educational institution can use to take disciplinary action towards its students. Facebook is a private profile intended for ones friends and family and when an academic institutions feels entitled to regulate what one expresses on their profile this invades privacy and ultimately infringes on the students freedom of speech.

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