• Expelled for Facebook comment that teacher is bipolar

    Date: 04.12.11 | by Judge Tom.

    Three students at Chapel Hill Middle School in Georgia were disciplined in March, 2011 for their posts on Facebook.


    Although done at home, the students’ comments resulted in action by the school. Their parents are considering appealing the discipline through the district process and possibly taking legal action.


    Alejandra Sosa wrote that the teacher was a child molester. “I was just expressing myself on Facebook, because like I said I was mad that day because of what he did…I had no intentions of ruining his reputation.” The honor roll student was suspended for ten days.


    Seventh-grader, William Lambert III, was also suspended for posting about the same teacher that he was a rapist. A third unnamed student was expelled for adding that the teacher was bipolar.





    Newtown Grafitti (Flickr)

    One issue raised by the parents regards the authority of the school to discipline a student for what they do at home. Courts across the nation continue to debate this issue. Some courts have ruled for the student on the basis of free speech under the First Amendment. Others have ruled for the school, citing the Tinker decision of 1969.


    Tinker created the standard for determining when student speech is protected. If it disrupts or has the potential to disrupt the school environment, or violates the rights of another, the speech is not protected. Otherwise, even if the speech is unpopular or a minority view, it is protected under the First Amendment.


    Do you have an opinion about this issue? Should you be allowed to write or say anything you want when you’re off-campus without being disciplined by your school? Is all speech free in America or are there limits to protected speech?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    6 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Askthejudge.info
      Tue, 12 Apr 2011 at 04:58

      Middle school students suspended and even expelled for Facebook comments about teacher. http://fb.me/YV8hzEri

    • annecollier
      Tue, 12 Apr 2011 at 05:21

      RT @ask_the_judge: Middle school students suspended and even expelled for Facebook comments about teacher. http://fb.me/YV8hzEri

    • Askthejudge.info
      Tue, 12 Apr 2011 at 10:14

      @annecollier Thx for RT! Middle school students suspended and even expelled for Facebook comments about teacher. http://fb.me/YV8hzEri

    • llvdhoven
      Wed, 13 Apr 2011 at 09:22

      RT @ask_the_judge: Middle school students suspended and even expelled for Facebook comments about teacher. http://fb.me/YV8hzEri

    • Oklahoma City Divorce Attorney Matt Ingham
      Wed, 06 Jul 2011 at 08:32

      Stating publicly on facebook that your teacher is a ‘child molester / rapists’ is crossing the line. Comments of that magnitude go far beyond the line ‘bad mouthing’ and are in the territory of libel/slander. Comments of that magnitude have the potential to permanently maim the teachers professional credientials and the most certainly have the potential to disrupt the school environment.

    • Beth W.
      Tue, 02 Aug 2011 at 02:39

      The ‘child molester’ comment went way too far.

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