Last week, Chicago honors student Justin Bird was suspended from school for creating a Facebook group called "I hate Big Daddy V." Turns out one of his teachers is Mr. Valiscus, and the group is devoted to griping about him. Within days of creating the Facebook group, 50 pf his classmates had joined.
The school administration was not amused.
This isn't the first time a student has been suspended for Facebook activity. Earlier this month, a federal magistrate ruled that now-college-sophomore Katharine Evans' lawsuit against her Florida school district could go forward. She is suing to have her suspension expunged because she alleges that the school district violated her First Amendment rights.
What did she do wrong to get suspended for three days? School officials said her Facebook page devoted to trashing a teacher constituted "cyberbullying."
The ACLU applauded the decision, saying it clearly extended First Amendment rights to online writings of a non-threatening manner. “This is an important victory both for Ms. Evans and Internet free speech,” Maria Kayanan (associate legal director of the ACLU of Florida) said, “because it upholds the principle that the right to freedom of speech and expression in America does not depend on the technology used to convey opinions and ideas.”
So what do you think? Should these students have been suspended for creating these Facebook pages on their own time, outside of school? Is this a violation of their First Amendment rights? If the latter, should a teacher then be allowed to create a similar page to gripe about her students?