from the free-speech-or-cyberbullying dept
Last year, we pointed out that teachers are increasingly complaining that students are cyberbullying not each other... but the teachers
themselves. Of course, in a lot of cases these seem overblown. Yet, that hasn't stopped some teachers from arguing that cyberbullying should be a criminal offense
. Yet, when teachers overreact and consider just about any criticism "cyberbullying" you're going to run into problems. Take, for example, the case of Katherine Evans. As a high school student who didn't much like her English teacher, she created a Facebook group called "Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I've ever met!" That doesn't seem like cyberbullying. That seems like garden variety student-bitching-about-teacher. Even worse, Evans' fellow students told her it was a stupid group, and expressed support for the teacher, such that Evans decided to take down the group herself
But, the school apparently felt this was a big problem, claiming that this was cyberbullying harassment and "disruptive behavior." It suspended Evans for three days and pulled her out of various advanced placement classes. Now, Evans is suing the school for violating her free speech rights
. As the Wired article notes, there have been lawsuits about free speech in school in the past, but the internet makes the issues a bit different here. Either way, it's quite difficult to see how the school can claim that such a group is actually cyberbullying, and punishing the girl for venting hardly seems like a reasonable response (especially for an issue that was dealt with by other students in a reasonable manner). What is this world coming to when people can't take the slightest criticism and insist that it's somehow "cyberbullying" that requires punishment or discipline?