April 10, 2007

Cursing out the school principal on MySpace.

A court protects the student's right.
In February 2006, Greencastle Middle School Principal Shawn Gobert discovered a Web page on MySpace purportedly created by him. A.B., who did not create the page, made derogatory postings on it concerning the school's policy on body piercings.

The state filed a delinquency petition in March alleging that A.B.'s acts would have been harassment, identity deception and identity theft if committed by an adult. The juvenile court dropped most of the charges but in June found A.B. to be a delinquent child and placed her on nine months of probation.
What result if the student had created the page?

CORRECTION MADE: I had the court as the "Eighth Circuit," which I think I must have taken from an earlier version of the linked news article. But, in fact, it is simply an intermediate state court in Indiana. Sorry.

9 comments:

Gahrie said...

I'm a teacher. I have a Mtspace page. Somebody did create a false myspace page for one of my fellow teachers. I discovered this, wrote to Myspace, and the page was taken down.

I don't believe anything was done to the kids involved.

MadisonMan said...

Shouldn't teachers and principals expect students to make fun of them and their rules? Isn't that what students do? I'm not sure if the student did anything beyond the pale here -- I haven't seen the MySpace in question (nor the piercing rules that the student didn't like) -- but the principal seems a little too aggressive in stamping out speech.

I wonder if AB's parents have let him (her?) get lots of piercings.

hdhouse said...

In absolute terms, free speech is free speech. But all free speech has consequences.

It is the epicenter of bullying to take a free-speech shot at someone knowing full well that they cannot respond, either by external guidelines, age, or more important, because of their own sense of decency. It is the ultimate "I can hit you but you can't touch me" attitude.

It perhaps isn't solveable but I think it is shameful and frankly the kid who did it deserves a swift kick in the ass.

David said...

That is yet another reason why good teachers are leaving the profession. When body piercings are more important than learning the three "3 R's" the education system and parents have failed the children.

Children in the range of K-12 have responsibilities to attend school and learn the basics. Their access to rights are limited.

Richard Fagin said...

Harassment, well maybe. Identity theft? Gimme a break. Did the kid try to buy something with the principal's credit card?

Everyone should read "Zero Tolerance Watch" that comes out occasionally in James Taranto's Best of the Web Today at opinionjournal.com. The column speaks volumes about how school officials conduct themselves these days. Looks like A.B.'s case is another one for ZTW.

After that, hoever, the court should order the principal to wash A.B.'s mouth out with soap.

Galvanized said...

The responsibility for fraud is with the creator of the site, not a commenter. MySpace should be able to identify and release that information. The child who commented seems not to have threatened the teacher in any way. While her comments were offensive, it doesn't seem that they were punishable by law.

But as with all networking sites issues, I ask where are the parents who should be monitoring their child's activities online? The parents should be reprimanded for that and her delinquency. Still, I think that the delinquency issue would not have arisen had she not been taken to court as a scapegoat. MySpace is rife with this sort of behavior, but, from experience, I feel it's a positive thing overall for teens whose parents closely monitor their activity on these networking sites. Parents must be active watchdogs over their kids' online profiles and interactions, and keepers of the passwords and sites visited. Parents just seem to have yielded their responsibilities, or else a parent would have caught this situation before it got out of hand. I know that I would have. Ask my daughter. LOL

hdhouse said...

ok legal eagles.....

what is the difference, legally, between Napster and Myspace...

if one is a facilitator for potential theft of intellectual property and/or ripe for civil litigation or other criminal prosecution and the other is....and which is which

Amber said...

This case is from an Indiana state court of appeals. Indiana isn't even in the Eighth Circuit.

Ann Althouse said...

Amber: Thanks. Correction made. I don't know where I got that. An earlier version of the story?