Mar 032011
 March 3, 2011  Posted by  Featured News, Online, Youth & Schools

Ty Tagami reports on yet another over-reaction by school personnel to young students’ misbehavior online and yet another example of schools invading student privacy. This case is from Georgia:

A 13-year-old girl who called her teacher a pedophile online says her principal ordered her to log onto Facebook so she could read the offending post and ensuing responses by her friends.

The investigation by Douglas County school officials resulted in the suspension of Alejandra Sosa and two other Chapel Hill Middle School students. They could face harsher penalties, including banishment to a school for children with behavior problems, when they go before a tribunal March 10

Read more on AJC.

The student’s offense is considered a Level One offense, the most serious level of offense:

“Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting” allegations of inappropriate behavior by a school employee toward a student.

So protecting staff from false allegations that can harm their reputation or livelihood is classified as the most serious level of offense?  I’d like to see what else is considered Level One by the school, but their handbook is not available online on their web site.  Nor is any student code of conduct available on the district’s web site.

Having read the full AJC news story, it is clear that what the middle school students wrote is wrong. But expulsion or being sent to a school for children with behavior problems for inappropriate behavior?

This was typical child misbehavior, however unfortunate. The school is seemingly compounding the problem by not teaching the students anything and just dealing with them harshly. Keep in mind that there appear to have been over a dozen students who made comments in the thread that started as a joke because a student was angry at a teacher.

Over a dozen students engaged in the type of misbehavior middle school students and high school students engage in.

Where were they taught otherwise?

If over a dozen participated, the school should recognize this as a call to action – to educate. It is not a call to over-react by treating middle school students as hardened troublemakers or emotionally disturbed youth in need of an alternative placement.

As to the issue of the principal ordering the student to login, well, I’ll leave that one up to the lawyers, but I consider it an invasion of student privacy if the comments were written and posted from outside of school and if the profile or posts were not public viewing.

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