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    “Scumbag Teachers” merits suspension

    Date: 05.07.12 | by Judge Tom.

    Three seniors at George Washington High School in San Francisco were given three-day suspensions for what they wrote on a Tumblr page. Titled “Scumbag Teachers” the students were accused by the principal of cyberbullying. They were also banned from attending their graduation ceremony and the prom. One of the students was also kicked off the student council.

    The comments included the following which seems rather innocuous and hardly the stuff of serious bullying: “Teachers Pink Floyd for 3 Weeks: Makes Final Project Due in 3 Days,” and “Nags Student Govt About Being on Task: Lags on Everything.” Do you think either of these comments call for disciplinary action?

    GW's mascot, the Eagle

    A few letters to the right officials brought about a quick resolution. The Asian Law Caucus and the ACLU of Northern California pointed out that the students’ rights were being violated and that their parents weren’t provided due process. The school recognized that they made a mistake and reinstated the students, removed any mention of this incident from their official records and told them they were no longer banned from walking with their class and the prom. One of the comments written by their attorney to the school district was that “Speech does not become ‘disruptive’ just because a teacher doesn’t like it or finds it offensive. . . . In fact, criticism of authority figures is exactly the type of speech the Constitution was designed to protect.”

    The students gained support from others on Tumblr. One wrote:

    “Find it ironic how Washington led the American Revolution against the British soldiers for freedom from King George, and here you are, sitting in this school trying to control the students the exact same way the king was, by taxing not our goods, but our freedom of speech. Washington himself would be appalled.”

    Another wrote: “In school we are going over 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Both are dystopian novels which express a fear of a future in which individual opinions are banned and people live in an authoritarian rule stripped of freedom and self-expression. What is so different from those novels and this situation in this school?”

    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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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Justin
      Mon, 05 Aug 2013 at 01:32

      As it may be cyber bulling its THEIR opinions and yes some should be not said or in this case typed but i say its trying to control how they think and maybe it was a way to call for help because they were being bullied by the teachers yes they do bully their students i have had/seen this happen all in all why would you take your time out of your day to stalk your students to see what they have to say about their “education experience” and it may have been too much but its their opinions and that is violating the first amendment freedom of speech and another freedom of press its not harrassment if they dont name names and if they did it would be a little different
      Thank you for your comments, Justin. -Judge Tom