Students have (probably) been badmouthing their teachers for as long as the two have existed--this is not a surprise. Something else that isn't surprising is that principals are oten fairly humorless people.

The drama began in November 2007 when Evans, a senior at the school, created a Facebook page that criticized her Advanced Placement English teacher, Sarah Phelps, as "the worst teacher I've ever met."

Evans, who also posted a yearbook photo of Phelps, sought comments from other students to express their "feelings of hatred" toward the teacher.

Three of her classmates posted comments--praising Phelps and chiding Evans.

"Mrs. Phelps is one of the most amazing teachers I've ever had and there's plenty of people who agree with me," one student wrote. "Whatever your reasons for hating her are, they're probably very immature."

Two days after posting the information, Evans took it down on her own free will.

But when Peter Bayer, the school's principal, learned of the posting, he suspended Evans for "bullying and cyber bullying harassment towards a staff member."
So let's recap. A teenager--not generally the type of person with the best judgment--complains about a teacher on her Facebook page, an action which does not have the effect she obviously hoped for, and takes down that complaint two days later. The principal, unable to deal with such an affront to the teacher-student power structure, exceeds his authority and suspends the student.

Look--if a student is mouthing off to a teacher in a class and is messing up the learning experience for the other students, is abusing a teacher verbally in the school hallway, or something along those lines, then fine. Bring the hammer down. But the principal needs to realize just how far his or her authority extends--and it doesn't extend to a student's Facebook page, just as it doesn't extend to phone conversations or other forms of communication. I imagine the ACLU, who filed the suit on behalf of this student, will win this suit, and they should.

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