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Re: [WWWEDU] Fwd.: PA Judge Denies Student Motion re: School Placement Due to Parody of Principal

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  • Bob Hirshon
    Dear List: This seems very strange. The decision of the court implies that the mere creation of anything compelling on the Internet is a punishable offense.
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 9, 2006
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      Dear List:

      This seems very strange. The decision of the court implies that the mere
      creation of anything compelling on the Internet is a punishable offense.


      They didn't base the ruling on the finding that what the student did was
      offensive or illegal, but merely on the grounds that other students were
      so compelled to look at it that they disrupted school activities. If
      that constitutes an offense, then the student could just as well be
      punished for posting a compelling poem, song, drawing, or, heck,
      mathematical proof, if other students were moved to violate school
      policies to go see/hear/read it. Even though their decision to do so
      would be clearly their own choice.

      It's a crazy world...

      Bob Hirshon
      Senior Project Director
      American Association for the Advancement of Science
      bhirshon@...

      >>> jlindner@... 03/08/06 3:45 PM >>>
      From National School Board Association Legal Clips - 3/2/06

      STUDENT RIGHTS & DISCIPLINE

      A Pennsylvania federal district court has denied (on 1/31/06) a high
      school student's motion for a preliminary injunction that would have
      barred school officials from disciplining him for creating an online
      parody profile of the school's principal on an off-campus computer.
      The court ruled that the facts did not support a finding that the
      student's conduct was protected by the First Amendment's Free Speech
      Clause. The profile, which was posted on the popular MySpace.com
      website, also contained a photograph of the principal imported from
      the school's official website. As word of the profile spread through
      the student body, students began accessing it on school computers.
      When school officials discovered that Justin Layshock was responsible
      for creating the profile, they placed him in an alternative education
      program. He sued, arguing that the disciplinary action violated his
      right to free speech and sought a preliminary injunction. For
      purposes of the motion for a preliminary injunction, the court did
      not address the merits of the claim in detail but only analyzed the
      claim to the extent necessary to determine whether Justin had
      presented sufficient facts to demonstrate (1) the likelihood of
      success on the merits, and (2) irreparable harm if he were kept in
      the alternative program until a decision on the merits. Addressing
      the likelihood of success on the merits, the district court rejected
      Justin's attempt to frame the issue in the case as "whether a school
      district can punish a student for posting on the Internet, from his
      grandmother's home computer, a non-threatening, non-obscene parody
      profile making fun of the school principal." The court determined
      that Justin had ignored a crucial element of student protected speech
      analysis, namely, whether his actions "substantially disrupt[ed]
      school operations or interfere[d] with the right of others." The
      school district presented ample evidence that his off-campus conduct
      resulted in actual disruption of the high school's day-to-day
      operations. The number of students accessing the profile forced
      school officials to shut down the school's computer system for five
      days, and school personnel had to devote an inordinate amount of time
      to monitoring students accessing the profile. Justin did not carry
      his of burden of proving the likelihood of success on the merits
      because the evidence demonstrated that the disciplinary action was
      justified. As for the irreparable harm element, the court found that
      while the alternative education program was not the ideal academic
      setting for someone with Justin's level of scholastic achievement,
      the court was unable to find the placement "so onerous that the harm
      to Justin will truly be irreparable."

      Layshock v. Hermitage School District, __ F.Supp.2d __, 2006 WL
      240655 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 31, 2006)

      Court order is on-line at
      http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/CourtorderTRO.pdf.

      John Lindner
      Third Grade
      Santa Teresa Elementary School
      jlindner@... - jlindner@...

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





      WWWEDU, The Web and Education Discussion Group
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wwwedu
      http://www.edwebproject.org/wwwedu.html

      Yahoo! Groups Links
    • Nancy Willard
      ... I have some significant concerns about this case/ruling. My information is limited and I might change my mind with more information, but here is my
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 9, 2006
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        > From National School Board Association Legal Clips - 3/2/06
        >
        > STUDENT RIGHTS & DISCIPLINE
        >
        > A Pennsylvania federal district court has denied (on 1/31/06) a high
        > school student's motion for a preliminary injunction that would have
        > barred school officials from disciplining him for creating an online
        > parody profile of the school's principal on an off-campus computer.
        > The court ruled that the facts did not support a finding that the
        > student's conduct was protected by the First Amendment's Free Speech
        > Clause. The profile, which was posted on the popular MySpace.com
        > website, also contained a photograph of the principal imported from
        > the school's official website. As word of the profile spread through
        > the student body, students began accessing it on school computers.
        > When school officials discovered that Justin Layshock was responsible
        > for creating the profile, they placed him in an alternative education
        > program. He sued, arguing that the disciplinary action violated his
        > right to free speech and sought a preliminary injunction. For
        > purposes of the motion for a preliminary injunction, the court did
        > not address the merits of the claim in detail but only analyzed the
        > claim to the extent necessary to determine whether Justin had
        > presented sufficient facts to demonstrate (1) the likelihood of
        > success on the merits, and (2) irreparable harm if he were kept in
        > the alternative program until a decision on the merits. Addressing
        > the likelihood of success on the merits, the district court rejected
        > Justin's attempt to frame the issue in the case as "whether a school
        > district can punish a student for posting on the Internet, from his
        > grandmother's home computer, a non-threatening, non-obscene parody
        > profile making fun of the school principal." The court determined
        > that Justin had ignored a crucial element of student protected speech
        > analysis, namely, whether his actions "substantially disrupt[ed]
        > school operations or interfere[d] with the right of others." The
        > school district presented ample evidence that his off-campus conduct
        > resulted in actual disruption of the high school's day-to-day
        > operations. The number of students accessing the profile forced
        > school officials to shut down the school's computer system for five
        > days, and school personnel had to devote an inordinate amount of time
        > to monitoring students accessing the profile. Justin did not carry
        > his of burden of proving the likelihood of success on the merits
        > because the evidence demonstrated that the disciplinary action was
        > justified. As for the irreparable harm element, the court found that
        > while the alternative education program was not the ideal academic
        > setting for someone with Justin's level of scholastic achievement,
        > the court was unable to find the placement "so onerous that the harm
        > to Justin will truly be irreparable."
        >
        > Layshock v. Hermitage School District, __ F.Supp.2d __, 2006 WL
        > 240655 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 31, 2006)
        >
        > Court order is on-line at http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/CourtorderTRO.pdf.

        I have some significant concerns about this case/ruling. My information is
        limited and I might change my mind with more information, but here is my
        impression:

        It does not sound to me like this material was all that bad -- not compared
        to some I have seen or heard about. Students rights to engage in parody
        should be protected. I would rather schools focus on the really harmful
        material students are posting -- generally directed at each other. Schools
        have a disturbing habit of only responding when the target is staff. This
        material was likely insulting. It was a clear violation of the MySpace terms
        of use and could have been easily taken down by filing a complaint with
        MySpace. But from all that I have read, it was not truly harmful.

        It appears that the student did access the site from school, which he should
        be held responsible for -- mild disciplinary response.

        But the fact that other students were also accessing the site from school is
        NOT the doing of this student. This is a failure of the Internet use
        management practices of the school. In order to justify the discipline of
        this student, it must be demonstrated that the off-campus speech created a
        substantial and material disruption on campus. I think the district's
        Internet use management failures were the cause of the disruption.

        I think the punishment was excessive. I know, principals do not like being
        made to "look like a fool" and likely this principal was irate that he was
        not able to control the situation that all of the students were going to
        this site and laughing at him. He overreacted, inappropriately, in my
        opinion. (Unless the facts are different from what I have read.)

        We absolutely MUST work diligently to address the very real damage that
        students are inflicting on each other through cyberbullying. (See my book
        Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social
        Cruelty, Threats, and Distress at http://cyberbully.org.)

        But an overreaction to student online parody in the context of a failed
        system of student Internet use management is not the direction we need to
        go.

        I hope this case is overturned on appeal. This was an inappropriate
        decision!

        Nancy


        --
        Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
        Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
        http://csriu.org
        http://cyberbully.org
        nwillard@...
      • BBracey@aol.com
        ... I agree.. Bonnie.. perhaps this is a test case to also cut the power of the press.. and bloggers? lots of newpapers are complaining about being roughed
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 9, 2006
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          In a message dated 3/9/06 10:06:12 AM, bhirshon@... writes:


          > They didn't base the ruling on the finding that what the student did was
          > offensive or illegal, but merely on the grounds that other students were
          > so compelled to look at it that they disrupted school activities. If
          > that constitutes an offense, then the student could just as well be
          > punished for posting a compelling poem, song, drawing, or, heck,
          > mathematical proof, if other students were moved to violate school
          > policies to go see/hear/read it. Even though their decision to do so
          > would be clearly their own choice.
          >
          > It's a crazy world..
          >

          I agree.. Bonnie.. perhaps this is a test case to also cut the power of the
          press.. and bloggers? lots of newpapers are complaining about being "roughed
          up" because of what they have written. See capitolhillblue.com

          Bonnie Bracey Sutton
          bbracey at aol com


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Nancy Willard
          Bonnie, I agree that this is basically a situation that involves a power struggle. Schools really DO need to respond to the truly harmful things kids are doing
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 9, 2006
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            Bonnie, I agree that this is basically a situation that involves a power
            struggle. Schools really DO need to respond to the truly harmful things kids
            are doing online to hurt other kids. But this was parody that got out of
            control because the district is not managing its Internet use effectively.

            Nancy

            >
            > In a message dated 3/9/06 10:06:12 AM, bhirshon@... writes:
            >
            >
            >> They didn't base the ruling on the finding that what the student did was
            >> offensive or illegal, but merely on the grounds that other students were
            >> so compelled to look at it that they disrupted school activities. If
            >> that constitutes an offense, then the student could just as well be
            >> punished for posting a compelling poem, song, drawing, or, heck,
            >> mathematical proof, if other students were moved to violate school
            >> policies to go see/hear/read it. Even though their decision to do so
            >> would be clearly their own choice.
            >>
            >> It's a crazy world..
            >>
            >
            > I agree.. Bonnie.. perhaps this is a test case to also cut the power of the
            > press.. and bloggers? lots of newpapers are complaining about being "roughed
            > up" because of what they have written. See capitolhillblue.com
            >
            > Bonnie Bracey Sutton
            > bbracey at aol com
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >
            > WWWEDU, The Web and Education Discussion Group
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wwwedu
            > http://www.edwebproject.org/wwwedu.html
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >

            --
            Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
            Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
            http://csriu.org
            nwillard@...
          • Rick Spitzer
            Whenever I am involved in these kinds of things or read about them, I place them in a non-technology context to see where it goes. ... What if the student had
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 10, 2006
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              Whenever I am involved in these kinds of things or read about them, I
              place them in a non-technology context to see where it goes.

              >The school district presented ample evidence that his off-campus
              >conduct resulted in actual disruption of the high school's day-to-day
              >operations. The number of students accessing the profile forced
              >school officials to shut down the school's computer system for five
              >days, and school personnel had to devote an inordinate amount of time
              >to monitoring students accessing the profile.

              What if the student had brought in a newspaper he had printed and began to
              hand them out in the hallways. If that had disrupted the educational
              environment, what would the school staff have done? Allowed the
              distribution to continue? Removed the papers? Removed the student?

              This is another situation where I believe the focus should be on the
              behavior, not the technology. Disruption of a school environment still
              took place here. In my opinion the technology is really not the issue.
              Schools need to respond to the behavior, and not focus on the delivery.

              wwwedu@yahoogroups.com on Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 8:57 AM -0700 wrote:
              >Bonnie, I agree that this is basically a situation that involves a power
              >struggle. Schools really DO need to respond to the truly harmful things
              >kids
              >are doing online to hurt other kids. But this was parody that got out of
              >control because the district is not managing its Internet use effectively.
              >
              >Nancy
              >
              >>
              >> In a message dated 3/9/06 10:06:12 AM, bhirshon@... writes:
              >>
              >>
              >>> They didn't base the ruling on the finding that what the student did
              >was
              >>> offensive or illegal, but merely on the grounds that other students
              >were
              >>> so compelled to look at it that they disrupted school activities. If
              >>> that constitutes an offense, then the student could just as well be
              >>> punished for posting a compelling poem, song, drawing, or, heck,
              >>> mathematical proof, if other students were moved to violate school
              >>> policies to go see/hear/read it. Even though their decision to do so
              >>> would be clearly their own choice.
              >>>
              >>> It's a crazy world..



              ===============================================
              Rick Spitzer
              Director of Technology
              Eagle County Schools
              P.O. Box 740
              757 East 3rd Street
              Eagle, CO 81631
              W:970-328-1931
              F: 970-328-1024
              rspitzer@...
              http://eagleschools.net

              Technology In Education Board
              2006 TIE Conference Chair
              Technology in Education 2006 Conference
              Copper Mountain, CO
              Tuesday, June 20, - Friday, June 23, 2006
              http://www.tie-online.org
              ===============================================
            • Nancy Willard
              ... I think this is a good approach. I do not argue that this student was blameless or that placing the material was inappropriate. But is most schools, what
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 10, 2006
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                > Whenever I am involved in these kinds of things or read about them, I
                > place them in a non-technology context to see where it goes.
                >
                I think this is a good approach. I do not argue that this student was
                blameless or that placing the material was inappropriate. But is most
                schools, what would the punishment have been for bringing in a paper with a
                parody of the principal that other students started passing around?
                Expulsion? I doubt it.

                I think it was the fact that this was posted online and the school could not
                control student use of the Internet in school that so angered the principal
                and that the consequence was excessive. Principals do not like situations
                where they have appeared to have lost control.

                Students should also have the free speech right to post material that is
                critical of the school or its staff. If this student had not accessed the
                site from school, there would have been no legal justification whatsoever
                for discipline -- even if the other students were accessing the site from
                school.


                Nancy

                >> The school district presented ample evidence that his off-campus
                >> conduct resulted in actual disruption of the high school's day-to-day
                >> operations. The number of students accessing the profile forced
                >> school officials to shut down the school's computer system for five
                >> days, and school personnel had to devote an inordinate amount of time
                >> to monitoring students accessing the profile.
                >
                > What if the student had brought in a newspaper he had printed and began to
                > hand them out in the hallways. If that had disrupted the educational
                > environment, what would the school staff have done? Allowed the
                > distribution to continue? Removed the papers? Removed the student?
                >
                > This is another situation where I believe the focus should be on the
                > behavior, not the technology. Disruption of a school environment still
                > took place here. In my opinion the technology is really not the issue.
                > Schools need to respond to the behavior, and not focus on the delivery.
                >
                > wwwedu@yahoogroups.com on Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 8:57 AM -0700 wrote:
                >> Bonnie, I agree that this is basically a situation that involves a power
                >> struggle. Schools really DO need to respond to the truly harmful things
                >> kids
                >> are doing online to hurt other kids. But this was parody that got out of
                >> control because the district is not managing its Internet use effectively.
                >>
                >> Nancy
                >>
                >>>
                >>> In a message dated 3/9/06 10:06:12 AM, bhirshon@... writes:
                >>>
                >>>
                >>>> They didn't base the ruling on the finding that what the student did
                >> was
                >>>> offensive or illegal, but merely on the grounds that other students
                >> were
                >>>> so compelled to look at it that they disrupted school activities. If
                >>>> that constitutes an offense, then the student could just as well be
                >>>> punished for posting a compelling poem, song, drawing, or, heck,
                >>>> mathematical proof, if other students were moved to violate school
                >>>> policies to go see/hear/read it. Even though their decision to do so
                >>>> would be clearly their own choice.
                >>>>
                >>>> It's a crazy world..
                >
                >
                >
                > ===============================================
                > Rick Spitzer
                > Director of Technology
                > Eagle County Schools
                > P.O. Box 740
                > 757 East 3rd Street
                > Eagle, CO 81631
                > W:970-328-1931
                > F: 970-328-1024
                > rspitzer@...
                > http://eagleschools.net
                >
                > Technology In Education Board
                > 2006 TIE Conference Chair
                > Technology in Education 2006 Conference
                > Copper Mountain, CO
                > Tuesday, June 20, - Friday, June 23, 2006
                > http://www.tie-online.org
                > ===============================================
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > WWWEDU, The Web and Education Discussion Group
                > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wwwedu
                > http://www.edwebproject.org/wwwedu.html
                >
                > Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >

                --
                Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
                Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
                http://csriu.org
                nwillard@...
              • Bob Hirshon
                Funny how the internet magnifies everything, though. It s hard to come up with a non-technology context that parallels being spoofed on a website. This would
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 10, 2006
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                  Funny how the internet magnifies everything, though. It's hard to come
                  up with a non-technology context that parallels being spoofed on a
                  website.

                  This would probably have never become a story at all if the student had
                  been given some sort of community service project as punishment. The
                  thing that makes it stand out is that the kid was assigned to a
                  three-hour per day special ed school as punishment. Not only is it
                  insulting to people in special ed, but it's kind of creepy-- like
                  punishing dissenters by sending them to mental hospitals. Generally, you
                  assign students to schools based on psychological assessments of where
                  they will thrive, not as a punishment.

                  Bob Hirshon
                  AAAS
                  bhirshon@...


                  >>> nwillard@... 03/10/06 2:31 PM >>>
                  > Whenever I am involved in these kinds of things or read about them, I
                  > place them in a non-technology context to see where it goes.
                  >
                  I think this is a good approach. I do not argue that this student was
                  blameless or that placing the material was inappropriate. But is most
                  schools, what would the punishment have been for bringing in a paper
                  with a
                  parody of the principal that other students started passing around?
                  Expulsion? I doubt it.

                  I think it was the fact that this was posted online and the school could
                  not
                  control student use of the Internet in school that so angered the
                  principal
                  and that the consequence was excessive. Principals do not like
                  situations
                  where they have appeared to have lost control.

                  Students should also have the free speech right to post material that is
                  critical of the school or its staff. If this student had not accessed
                  the
                  site from school, there would have been no legal justification
                  whatsoever
                  for discipline -- even if the other students were accessing the site
                  from
                  school.


                  Nancy

                  >> The school district presented ample evidence that his off-campus
                  >> conduct resulted in actual disruption of the high school's day-to-day
                  >> operations. The number of students accessing the profile forced
                  >> school officials to shut down the school's computer system for five
                  >> days, and school personnel had to devote an inordinate amount of time
                  >> to monitoring students accessing the profile.
                  >
                  > What if the student had brought in a newspaper he had printed and
                  began to
                  > hand them out in the hallways. If that had disrupted the educational
                  > environment, what would the school staff have done? Allowed the
                  > distribution to continue? Removed the papers? Removed the student?
                  >
                  > This is another situation where I believe the focus should be on the
                  > behavior, not the technology. Disruption of a school environment still
                  > took place here. In my opinion the technology is really not the issue.
                  > Schools need to respond to the behavior, and not focus on the
                  delivery.
                  >
                  > wwwedu@yahoogroups.com on Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 8:57 AM -0700
                  wrote:
                  >> Bonnie, I agree that this is basically a situation that involves a
                  power
                  >> struggle. Schools really DO need to respond to the truly harmful
                  things
                  >> kids
                  >> are doing online to hurt other kids. But this was parody that got out
                  of
                  >> control because the district is not managing its Internet use
                  effectively.
                  >>
                  >> Nancy
                  >>
                  >>>
                  >>> In a message dated 3/9/06 10:06:12 AM, bhirshon@... writes:
                  >>>
                  >>>
                  >>>> They didn't base the ruling on the finding that what the student
                  did
                  >> was
                  >>>> offensive or illegal, but merely on the grounds that other students
                  >> were
                  >>>> so compelled to look at it that they disrupted school activities.
                  If
                  >>>> that constitutes an offense, then the student could just as well be
                  >>>> punished for posting a compelling poem, song, drawing, or, heck,
                  >>>> mathematical proof, if other students were moved to violate school
                  >>>> policies to go see/hear/read it. Even though their decision to do
                  so
                  >>>> would be clearly their own choice.
                  >>>>
                  >>>> It's a crazy world..
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > ===============================================
                  > Rick Spitzer
                  > Director of Technology
                  > Eagle County Schools
                  > P.O. Box 740
                  > 757 East 3rd Street
                  > Eagle, CO 81631
                  > W:970-328-1931
                  > F: 970-328-1024
                  > rspitzer@...
                  > http://eagleschools.net
                  >
                  > Technology In Education Board
                  > 2006 TIE Conference Chair
                  > Technology in Education 2006 Conference
                  > Copper Mountain, CO
                  > Tuesday, June 20, - Friday, June 23, 2006
                  > http://www.tie-online.org
                  > ===============================================
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > WWWEDU, The Web and Education Discussion Group
                  > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wwwedu
                  > http://www.edwebproject.org/wwwedu.html
                  >
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >

                  --
                  Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
                  Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
                  http://csriu.org
                  nwillard@...





                  WWWEDU, The Web and Education Discussion Group
                  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wwwedu
                  http://www.edwebproject.org/wwwedu.html

                  Yahoo! Groups Links
                • myspamkan
                  ... Let s look at this thing from another angle. I m going to forego any discussion of whether this is a Constitutional situation or a contractual one under
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 13, 2006
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                    --- In wwwedu@yahoogroups.com, John Lindner <jlindner@...> wrote:
                    > that Justin had ignored a crucial element of student protected speech
                    > analysis, namely, whether his actions "substantially disrupt[ed]
                    > school operations or interfere[d] with the right of others."

                    Let's look at this thing from another angle. I'm going to forego any
                    discussion of whether this is a Constitutional situation or a
                    contractual one under the AUP or one that meets the legal standard that
                    has to be met in order to take action. I'm going to pose the
                    question, "What alternatives did Justin have to redress his grievance?"

                    I'm sure there are other who will add to (or disagree with) what I am
                    going to say, because I'm just going to look at one possiblity.

                    I think this may be an area where we are failing to provide our
                    students with instruction in the right way to do things. I can't count
                    the number of times I've encountered student protests about conditions
                    in school. In almost every case, the students went about things in the
                    wrong way, because it was the only way they knew. In almost every
                    case, it violated school policy and gave those in charge solid grounds
                    on which to crush the protest silently without seriously addressing the
                    issue.

                    My approach with students is to teach them about civil disobedience,
                    the way to go about it, and the price that must be paid to right a
                    wrong. I taught them how to protest and move things through the system
                    so that they do have a voice and are heard. I taught them that doing
                    so is hard work and requires sacrafice. I taught them about the civil
                    rights movement and the Vietnam protests and the prices paid by
                    protesters.

                    Incidentally, my course of action was not without friction. More than
                    one time I found myself at odds with someone above me who didn't like
                    what I was doing. I guess I'm lucky in having enough of a spine to
                    stand up for myself and enough knowledge to do it successfully. I was
                    also lucky to have allies in administration who agreed with my approach
                    and gave me enough support to be able to move forward.

                    In most cases, the students found that the work and consequences
                    necessary to do things correctly far over shadowed thier desire for
                    instant gratification with no sanctions and they stopped what they were
                    doing (often to my disappointment, because they had legitimate
                    concerns). In other rarer cases, students moved ahead with plans and
                    did what had to be done.

                    In one case, they organized a walk out at lunch time and rallied around
                    the flag pole in front of the school after having alerted the press to
                    the action. Students were told to come back into the building or
                    action would have to be taken. They said that they would come in as
                    long as they could meet and discuss the problem and a solution. It was
                    agreed and since the walk out took place at lunch time, they paid a
                    price for the walk out in the form of three detentions. However, the
                    detentions coincided with the times for the meetings and were held
                    concurrently. The issue was resolved to everyone's satisfaction, and
                    process was set up to address grievences more efficiently and a clear
                    message was sent that further disruptions of school would be dealt with
                    more seriously.

                    There are plenty of other places we tell students to do the right
                    thing, but fail to teach them what the right thing is. Throughout my
                    schooling, I suffered the vision of red ink on my English papers
                    showing me what was wrong mechanically, but can't ever remember anyone
                    telling me how to convey my thoughts effectively or to write
                    interestingly. That happened long after I was out of school and in
                    contact with writers.

                    One of my pet peeves is teachers who assign research to students and
                    tell them to make a report or for that matter give them a final product
                    that is a good one without giving them the scaffolding they need. At
                    what point in their educational careers have the children been taught
                    how to take notes and then organize those notes in a way that makes
                    sense? The answer to that one is very simple and I hear it ALL the
                    time. "That was done before they got to me."

                    Well guess what folks? It probably wasn't. If we as a profession have
                    to point to one failing, I would say it is a lack of scaffolding and
                    modeling that we provide for students to develop high order skills.

                    I think Tom March says it best when he talks about Webquests. When you
                    look at most Webquests, when it comes to the Process part, most
                    teachers could just has well have written three words. "Add magic
                    here!"

                    The Process is the part of the activity that requres intense student
                    scaffolding. It requires resources and guide questions as well as a
                    great deal of teacher intervention to keep students on the track.

                    So what has all this to do with a student creating a web page to
                    criticized his principal? Well, I think it goes back to the fact that
                    we have a fear of the technology that is second nature to students and
                    don't know how to teach them how to use it properly, because we don't
                    have a clue how they are using it, let alone the best or correct way to
                    use it for education. They are already using it routinely as part of
                    their every day existance and to many of us that is threateneing. It
                    prevents us from seeing solutions in front of our eye and often causes
                    us to brand those solutions as the enemy.

                    In this case, I would bet money that they school's filter is blocking
                    RateMyTeacher.com . In my mind, that site is a solution. When some of
                    our students created a site slamming the school, teachers, and some
                    students, our reaction was to engage them in dialog. We cretiqued the
                    site, invited them to participate in a school sponsored version of
                    their parody, and told them they were reinventing the wheel, because
                    someone else had already done what they were trying to do and did is
                    better. We pointed them to RateMyTeacher.com and told them that was
                    the best place to address the issues they brought up in their site.
                    They could rate any teacher or administrator there by following the
                    guidelines provided.

                    We put a lot of time and effort into addressing the situation through
                    education. The payoff was a lot greater than putting resources in
                    legal fees, depositions, and court time.

                    How many of you have ever visited RateMyTeacher.com? It might be worth
                    your time to sign up and take a look at your school. See if it is on
                    the wall of shame that lists about 750 schools/districts that they know
                    are blocking their site. Our school is not on it. We encourage our
                    students to use it OUTSIDE of school time and they do. The site has an
                    excellent set of review guidelines that give the students an idea of
                    what is appropriate and what is not, as well as having a set of
                    procedures to create an environment that is balanced.

                    I revisited the site last night and looked over the 250 teachers who
                    were reviewed. Each review allows the student to say what they want
                    and to rate the teachers on Easiness, Helpfulness, and Clarity.
                    Hundreds of our teachers were reviewed, some 20 or 30 times. While
                    individual comments ranges from glowing to flaming, the smilie that is
                    used to represent the average score of each teacher was pretty much on
                    the mark.

                    Yes, there were bad teachers, but there were no surprises unless you
                    count the insightful comments of some of the students. The following
                    comments are right on target and a good representation of what is on
                    the site. (Check out #2 in light of what I said about scaffolding.)

                    "When I had her in freshman year, I didn't liker her at all. Now that
                    I look back on it, I didn't HAVE to like her. She did her job and I
                    respect her."

                    "Mr D. is the best teacher in the world...hes the only teacher i know
                    that knows how to give notes and explain them at the same time!!!!!"

                    "All she does is pass out worksheets."

                    "Horrible VP. Thought he was a detective. Needs to chill."

                    "Absolutely awesome all around guy." (This was a principal.)

                    ...and to steal and line from Dave Warlick (who stole it elsewhere),
                    Exactly two cents worth.

                    Art
                    awolinsky@...
                  • Nancy Willard
                    ... I agree with most of what Art has to say. However, in the Justin case it is unknown whether this was a put down parody or whether he had a legitimate
                    Message 9 of 10 , Mar 13, 2006
                    • 0 Attachment
                      > --- In wwwedu@yahoogroups.com, John Lindner <jlindner@...> wrote:
                      >> that Justin had ignored a crucial element of student protected speech
                      >> analysis, namely, whether his actions "substantially disrupt[ed]
                      >> school operations or interfere[d] with the right of others."
                      >
                      > Let's look at this thing from another angle. I'm going to forego any
                      > discussion of whether this is a Constitutional situation or a
                      > contractual one under the AUP or one that meets the legal standard that
                      > has to be met in order to take action. I'm going to pose the
                      > question, "What alternatives did Justin have to redress his grievance?"

                      I agree with most of what Art has to say. However, in the Justin case it is
                      unknown whether this was a "put down" parody or whether he had a legitimate
                      complaint against the principal that he was trying to publish.

                      This is a concern I focused on in my book Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats. In
                      some of the other cases involving student harmful speech directed at school
                      staff it did appear to me -- based on admittedly incomplete information --
                      that the issue may have involved student response to teacher bullying/abuse
                      of the student.

                      It is important to pay attention to this in incidents of student against
                      student cyberbullying also. A student who is being cruelly tormented by
                      bullies at school may retaliate online -- and appear to be the source of the
                      problem.

                      But in the PA case, I believe, based on the facts that I have seen, that the
                      punishment did not fit the reported crime and that the reason for the
                      excessive punishment was that the principal lost control of the situation
                      due to lack of effective Internet use management practices and as a result
                      of his perception of loss of control came down too hard on the student.

                      Nancy
                      --
                      Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
                      Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
                      http://csriu.org
                      nwillard@...
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