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Student criticising teacher on Facebook is protected under freedom of speech: US court

A former Florida high school student who was suspended by her principal after she set up a Facebook page to criticize her teacher is protected constitutionally under the First Amendment that covers freedom of speech, according to a ruling by US federal magistrate Barry Garber.

Katherine Evans, now 19 and attending college, was suspended in 2007 from Pembroke Pines Charter High School after she used her home computer to create a Facebook page titled, ‘Ms Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever met’.

A former Florida high school student who was suspended by her principal after she set up a Facebook page to criticize her teacher is protected constitutionally under the First Amendment that covers freedom of speech, according to a ruling by US federal magistrate Barry Garber.

Katherine Evans, now 19 and attending college, was suspended in 2007 from Pembroke Pines Charter High School after she used her home computer to create a Facebook page titled, ‘Ms Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever met’.

After receiving three comments from people who criticized her and supported the teacher, Evans removed the page from Facebook. In the meanwhile, the school principal Peter Bayer suspended Evans for three days for disruptive behaviour and cyber-bullying of a staff member.

In his order, the magistrate found that Evans had a constitutional right to express her views on the social networking site. “It was an opinion of a student about a teacher, that was published off-campus… was not lewd, vulgar, threatening, or advocating illegal or dangerous behaviour,” Garber ruled. [Source: CNN]

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