• Suspended for Facebook post that teacher should be shot

    Date: 12.28.11 | by Judge Tom.

    Michelle Edwards is a senior at Hickory High School in Virginia. She was working on a group project that included an essay. Michelle received a 93 on her paper, lower than she thought she deserved. The teacher marked part of her essay¬†as “incoherent.”

    Frustrated, Michelle wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall “I say we shoot our English teacher in the face. But then again we might not be able to carry that out since we’re so incoherent.”

    Another teacher saw the post and reported it. Michelle was immediately suspended and school officials recommended she be expelled. Following a hearing, the school decided a 90-day suspension was an adequate sanction. Michelle will be home-schooled until she can return to Hickory High where she’ll graduate with her class in 2012.

    Photo by Andorand (Flickr)

    Michelle’s father sees the incident as an opportunity for others. Speaking of his daughter’s message, he said “It was a poor choice of words. She made a sarcastic statement, and the next thing you know, it’s turned into a full-blown mess. There’s a lesson to be learned. I think a lot of kids can benefit from what Michelle did. She knows she did wrong. She’s paying for her mistakes, and she doesn’t want to see other kids in the same situation. It’s so easy to post something and not be able to take it back.”

    This incident is similar to Avery Doninger’s email calling school staff in the front office “douchebags.” She was prohibited from becoming her senior class secretary and lost her final appeal to the United States Supreme Court in October, 2011. As Michelle’s father said, once you hit “send” your message is out there forever. Even if you delete it immediately after sending it, you can’t undo what’s out there. This holds true for all electronic messaging: email, blog, texting, twittering, etc. Whoever receives it can do what they like with your photo and text. “Think B4 U Send.”

    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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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Tulsa Divorce Lawyers
      Thu, 29 Dec 2011 at 10:30

      I understand Michelle’s frustration, but she needs to choose her words more carefully. Saying that one of the teachers ‘should be shot’ would easily cause a disruption to the educational environment which would be a violation of the Tinker standard.

    • Askthejudge.info
      Fri, 30 Dec 2011 at 12:32

      New blog post: Suspended for Facebook post that teacher should be shot http://t.co/trBigQNU

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