Got Social?

Naughty kids on Facebook

Last night, on Twitter, Amy Bruckman posted the following

asbruckman: Middle schoolers forced to show principal facebook accounts, then threatened with expulsion for calling teacher names:

The story is about a principal at a school where kids are, what, 11, 12, 13 years old, forced – FORCED a student to show her their Facebook page.  There were some awful things posted about a teacher, with words like pedophile and rapist.  I’m not defending what the kids said or wrote.  This is a parent issues.  These kids are young and their parents should be monitoring what they do on Facebook.

What this principal did was wrong, and I’m not a lawyer but I’d guess it violated the rights of these children.  I know that it was in a public domain, and if that’s the case, and the principal found the comments in a public way, then it is well within her right to take action.  She has no right to FORCE (their words, not mine) this student to show her the Facebook page.

I responded to Amy on Twitter

sorry_afk@asbruckman def. Violation of childs priv. Either facebook is/is not a school thing. Can’t have it both ways. I hope they sue the principal

and someone name Erica Glaser wrote back

EricaGlasier@sorry_afk@asbruckman @ToughLoveforX WDYT of the particular names the students called the teacher? WWYD if you were that teacher’s boss?

To which, someone named ToughLoveForX responded:

@EricaGlasier WID? It’s a eachable moment. Make it part of Public Discourse in skl. Disciplining is the ez way out. @sorry_afk @asbruckman

My response was far too much for 140 characters, so I decided to put it here.

First off, I think the principal should be disciplined.  There was no imminent threat to the school, this is not like opening a kids locker (which is school property anyway, Facebook is not), it’s a somewhat private space, one which schools like these have been arguing, ironically, that should not BE in schools.  And yet…

If I were the parents of these kids, I would file a law suit.  There are checks and balances for authority.

If I were the school system, I would do a community program on the positive AND negative things about social networks – and NOT bring up these kids directly.  Everyone will know, from the press, what the genesis of this is – no need to give these kids more attention than they have already had.

I would also bring the kids AND THEIR PARENTS into school for a conference, and talk about why this happened and how.

I don’t know this teacher in question, but I might want to find out what prompted these comments.  It could very well be a few kids acting out for no reason, and it very likely is the case, but I wouldn’t let this go unquestioned.

So, that is what I would do – right or wrong, and I’m not involved in K-12, I don’t have kids, its easy for me to sit here in my office and write this.  But these things seem logical to me.  The most important thing is, this principal was wrong, with a capital W.

  • tinkerbelle86 says:

    your thoughts sound right to me too, its like people being sacked for comments they make out of work on facebook about their emplyers. its wrong, and silly, sure, but if its out of work time then can they do that?

    March 11, 2011 at 11:23 am
  • Jay Livingston says:

    1. How private is FB? I don’t know what the legal status is, but it’s certainly possible that FB postings can be subject to libel suits. I think that offended parties can even bring suit for e-mail statements. So if the teacher was not in fact a pedophile, the kids ought to know they are running the risk of a serious law suit.

    2. If the teacher is really a pedophile, then adults would be up in arms that the school didn’t know about it. The kids would be under fire for not telling adults (like the kids in the NH school who might have known about an affair between a female teacher and a student and their plan to murder her husband). And the principal would be under fire for not finding out.

    So while I agree with you generally, it’s not so simple.

    March 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

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