Monday, April 24, 2006

Child knows more than Adults!

Legal questions rise as schools punish students for using MySpace

ORLANDO, Fla. — When high school teacher Lee Waters logged
onto a popular Web site and read the demeaning sexual comments a student had
posted alongside her picture, the Sarasota woman felt completely
The school district suspended the North Port High School student,
but attorney Geoffrey Morris said Waters doesn't think the boy understands the
humiliation she feels.

The teacher filed a lawsuit against the student in March, but
she isn't looking for money. She just wants other students to understand how
harmful Internet pranks can be, Morris said.

That appears to be the basis of the entire story, let's read on!

The Sarasota County School District said it did what it could to help Waters, by
suspending the student and taking other disciplinary action, but it's not alone
as it struggles to deal with cyber-bullying. Similar lawsuits and complaints are
popping up in Florida and elsewhere nationwide as bullies move from punching
someone on the playground to writing nasty and sometime libelous postings about
classmates, teachers and school officials on the Internet, where everyone can
read them.
Public and private schools have launched cyber crackdowns on the
bullies, but that has left them vulnerable to accusations that they are
violating the students' First Amendment rights, particularly when the posting is
made on an off-campus computer as most are. The American Civil Liberties Union
has been quick to file and threaten lawsuits if it thinks a school or district
has crossed the line.

Well this is nothing new, online libeling and lampooning of people happens often, especially considering other cases where people feel emboldened by the semi-anonyminity of the internet. There is a slight problem though...Children are not full citizens according to the law (as I understand it), and therefore HAVE no first amendment rights (example: a minor under the age of 18-that has not been emancipated- cannot enter into a legally binding contract on their own). Of course we all know the propensity of the American Civil Liberties Union to throw their lawyers into the fray. My understanding is that the childrens' legal guardians are the ones that should be held responsible for that person's actions.

Justin Layshock, for example, admitted that he logged on to
MySpace from his grandmother's computer to post a phony profile of his
Pennsylvania high school's principal that was peppered with vulgarities and fat
jokes. To the question "what did you do on your last birthday?" Layshock wrote
for his principal: "too drunk to remember."
Administrators suspended Layshock
for 10 days and temporarily transferred the gifted student to an alternative
program reserved for students with discipline problems, saying he had disrupted
school activities.
The ACLU sued, saying Layshock's First Amendment rights
were violated. The case is pending.

Again, same comments. I wonder why that school's administration even cares about what was posted on a website, but if it does it should send a note to the child's parents, who probably have NO idea what he did (considering how many parents still think television is a good babysitter, so therefore computers must be an even better one). I am still trying to figure out how something posted on a website has anything to do with school activities, especially since "Nearly every school system has blocked students from accessing MySpace and similar sites like Xanga and Facebook while on campus."

I just hope everyone accepts the basic truth:
"Public schools do not have a legal authority to regulate what a
kid does at their home computer"

The funny part is...the only one who understands who is the ultimate responsibility for what is posted by the children is a 7th grader....

Seventh-grader Dhillon Ramdular just hoped someone would help him
when classmates at his Brevard County middle school posted a phony Web site,
using his name and photo, that had racial remarks and vulgar sexual pictures. He
turned to school officials, but said his tormentors' parents also needed to take
"I think if a student is doing something bad in MySpace and it's
relating to school matters then a teacher should be able to step in and say
that," he said. "If it's just at home, then parents should really take care of
(emphasis mine)

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