Canadian Mac Forums at ehMac banner

Are schools overstepping their authority in disciplining students over internet posts

  • Yes school authority should be limited to matters at the school

    Votes: 26 45.6%
  • No schools should have authority to discipline over this

    Votes: 31 54.4%
1 - 20 of 71 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
31,013 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
More GTA students punished over Facebook comments
Updated Mon. Apr. 30 2007 10:12 AM ET

toronto.ctv.ca

More Toronto-area students have been disciplined following comments posted on the popular social networking website Facebook.com.

Five Grade 8 students from Willowbrook Public School in Thornhill have been banned from a year-end trip to Montreal after disparaging remarks about teachers were posted online.
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNe...ook_punishment_070430/20070430?hub=TopStories

This is a growing issue.....strikes me that there is a free speech issue here and that schools are over stepping their authority.
 

·
Canadian By Choice
Joined
·
117,692 Posts
I am torn over this issue. While I advocate free speech, the comments made by these students could lead to the suspension of this teacher. The students might just be "joking around", as they contend, but there are consequences to these jokes.

With freedom comes responsibility to use that freedom wisely.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,705 Posts
I don't think this is a free-speech issue. This could be a legal matter and it a form of abuse. I am not 100% sure of Canadian law but the teacher could have sued over slander. He was making false aqcuisations about a teacher he should have respect for.

Is it free speech if some posts on the internet that they bought a gun a plan on shooting someone?
 

·
Mac Guru
Joined
·
14,627 Posts
There appears to be a difference between insulting or making disparaging remarks about an individual in person than doing the same on a web site such as Facebook, whereas in reality, there is no difference, except that one of the two is done virtually, but nevertheless is the same deal, is it not? Although one may argue freedom of speech, if you make a disparaging remark or an insulting comment to a teacher to her face, and you get suspended for it (or given "detention"), that's seen as the norm. However, if the exact same is done, but on Facebook, it's suddenly a different can of worms. Now why is that?
 

·
Mac Guru
Joined
·
14,627 Posts
You should add another poll option: "On the fence on the matter."
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,709 Posts
What the students wrote was offensive, and easily traced back to them.

I don't buy the parental argument that this happened away from school and therefore should not fall under the school's jurisdiction. The kids are lucky if they only get brief suspensions and don't get to go on school trips. Parents who condone this kind of abuse aren't helping at all. At least if they apologized for their kids, they might not reap the lawsuit they deserve to lose as a result.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,175 Posts
Since the offensive stuff is about the teachers it could be argued that it is indeed 'at the school'. Much as homework is done at home, but managed by the school.

A doubt if we would find it acceptable for someone to say something disparaging or insulting to a teacher at school, so why is it acceptable away from school, in such a public manner?

I am in the same place as Dr G on this one. We need to find a way to teach more about the responsibility part of the equation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
835 Posts
I agree with Dr. G. With free speech comes the responsibility to use it wisely. What they said could or may have caused the teachers real harm.

"Dad's" upset because his son was called to account for his actions. Does he or his son understand that they prossibly slandered teacher(s)? I don't see any mention of an apology by the father for the actions of his son. Only excuses. Or doesn't that matter to him?

Bram Koch:
"I didn't think it would be so public. I was just writing it to my friends. I didn't expect that the teachers would get involved and that they would be reading this," he said.
So it was okay just so long as it remained "private"?

The student also violated board policy which reads: "Misconduct carried out over the Internet may be subject to school discipline, whether carried out at home, at a school or elsewhere." I suspect that the policy was clearly stated somewhere in their handbook or agenda and the parents were made aware of it. It's too bad some of the parents didn't take the time to go over the policy with their children and remind them to use their "freedom of speech" wisely.

I'm glad the school is teaching students this lesson. Someone has to.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,705 Posts
I got suspended in grade 8 forging a christmas card from a classmate a la "twas the night before christmas and all through the house, every create was f***ing yes even a mouse...."... perhaps I should have fought that it was free speech....
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
31,013 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Misconduct carried out over the Internet may be subject to school discipline, whether carried out at home, at a school or elsewhere."
I doubt whether that would stand a legal challenge.

Indeed teachers have the recourse of the courts but in these cases it is not the court determining harm but rather the school itself acting as lawmaker judge and meting out penalties.

How is this different than rate your prof and any other school judgement forums even newspapers that interview students for their opinion.

I believe this should be a mediated matter between individuals and that the authority of the school should be reserved to mediating complaints either from staff or students about outside or inside the school comments.

Very serious accusations/comments in either direction have legal recourse but in my mind that should be last resort.

What it points out to in my mind is the need for a mediated complaint structure that involves, student, parent, teacher as individual, school administration and mediator. Ombudsperson if you like.

I believe private schools have more contractual power in this matter...public schools need limits to their power over monitoring and dishing out consequences as institutions in this area.

Teachers outside of class are also individuals not representative of the school administration and should not be able to wield that school authority arbitrarily.

There are responsible kids and irresponsible kids.....the same goes for teachers and in my mind the latter need to be held to a higher standard by virtue of their position...easily abused in these cases.

I have no issue with "teaching" the kids that harm ( one on one with the "harmed teacher WILL make an impression ) can occur in these situations with careless commentary but I do feel that it needs to be done without the school wielding arbitrary power as that smacks far to much of restriction on speech and thought...and that's the greater danger in my view.

There is already a backlash winding up, a justified one in my view.
Dr. G remembers the 60s...so do I.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,050 Posts
the most scary point is how the parent doesn't acknowledge his child's transgression

i wonder if the parent made such a disparaging remark about the CEO of his employer, if it would still be a "free speech" issue or if the parent would be fired?
 

·
Canadian By Choice
Joined
·
117,692 Posts
"How is this different than rate your prof and any other school judgement forums even newspapers that interview students for their opinion." MacDoc, ratemyprofessors.com allows a prof to "flag a posting" that he/she feels is unjust. I did this with two postings, in that the rating was under my name for two different courses taught in another faculty by a prof with a similar name as mine. They took off these two postings.

When a newspaper interviews a group of students, they are able to filter out obscene or comments that hinge on slander.

Yes, I remember the 60's, which is why I find it difficult to support a limitation of free speech. Still, I contend that freedom of speech has a responsibility to use this speech in a relevant and truthful manner.

Full disclosure -- here is my ratemyprofessors.com rating. The latest ratings are always "under review" for some reason.

Marc Glassman - Memorial University of Newfoundland - RateMyProfessors.com
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,709 Posts
How is this different than rate your prof and any other school judgement forums even newspapers that interview students for their opinion.
Back to school, you clearly didn't read what the kids wrote.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,798 Posts
The school did the right thing.

"Free Speech" in Canada is not absolute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech#Canada said:
In Canada, it is illegal to say anything that could harm someone in a public area. Such as, "FIRE!" in a movie theater. Moreover, it is illegal to debate free speech in Quebec.
The constitutional provision that guarantees Freedom of expression in Canada is section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ... (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
Due to section 1 of the Charter, the so-called limitation clause, Canada's freedom of expression is not absolute and can be limited under certain situations. Section 1 of the Charter states:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. (emphasis added)
This section is double edged. First it implies that a limitation on freedom of speech prescribed in law can be permitted if it can be justified as being a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society. Conversely, it implies that a restriction can be invalidated if it cannot be shown to be a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society. The former case has been used to uphold limits on legislation which are used to prevent hate speech and obscenity.[citation needed]
In the landmark Supreme Court of Canada case R. v. Zundel (1992), the court struck down a provision in the Criminal Code that prohibited publication of false information or news, stating that it violated section 2(b) of the Charter.
In April 29, 2004, Bill C-250 was passed which includes as hate speech propaganda against people based on their sexual orientation. It is now illegal to publicly incite hatred against people based on their colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation. However, under section 319 on hate speech, a person cannot be convicted of hate speech "if the person can establish that the statements made are true."
Other laws that protect freedom of speech in Canada, and did so, to a limited extent, before the Charter was enacted in 1982, include the Implied Bill of Rights and the Canadian Bill of Rights.
This is why in Canada we have media bans on some court proceedings.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
31,013 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
WHAT the particular kids wrote is only a portion of the spectrum of commentary that exists online and between kids and the issues are

Who determines the transgression?
Who determines the penalty?
There ARE liable remedies.....why are the schools allowed to over ride them.

•••

GT - nothing in your quote directly affects the issue of schools exercising authority beyond the grounds of the school.

This is NOT an easy question -never has been - never will be.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,487 Posts
One thing being overlooked here is not the actions of the school but the action of the parents. Heck if these were my kids making crude slanderous remarks about their teacher online for all the world to see, they'd loose a heck of a lot more than a school trip to Montreal. I be too damned embarrassed to show my face on CTV news especially to fight for little Johnny to have his trip back.

Cheers
MacGuiver
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
31,013 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One thing being overlooked here is not the actions of the school but the action of the parents. Heck if these were my kids making crude slanderous remarks about their teacher online for all the world to see, they'd loose a heck of a lot more than a school trip to Montreal. I be too damned embarrassed to show my face on CTV news especially to fight for little Johnny to have his trip back.

Cheers
MacGuiver
Yes that's an important point - and very good moral suasion.

but it's the arbitrary exercise of penalties by the school outside school property I'm concerned about.

Informing parents in a neutral manner would be about as far as I'd see being tolerable..and legal for under 16.
16 and over..this is getting into a very grey area.
Authority has limits.
 

·
Canadian By Choice
Joined
·
117,692 Posts
"And with Free Speech there is the risk of offence. Small price to pay." AS, my problem with what you said is that there is far greater damage done to those unjustly spoken about with this free speech. Case in point -- an ex-student of mine was teaching in BC. He was accused of touching a boy on a field trip. Problem is, he was not on that field trip, and the boy who he supposedly touched confirmed this point. Still, the school district did not want to take a chance and he was not rehired. They said that they did not fire this teacher, just not rehired him. However, they did confirm that these allegations were a contributing factor in not rehiring this person.

Thus, freedom of speech needs to be protected, as does the truth and justice. It is a fine balance, which is where responsibility comes into play. In law school, this balance is discussed with the classic situation of screaming "fire" or "bomb" in a crowded theater, even when there is no such threat.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,374 Posts
The comments I have read are not innocent harmless remarks about a teacher that is disliked, rather, they are comments that, if true, could cost a teacher their job and, if false, tar a teacher's reputation for life.

Should students be able to criticize teachers online? I don't have a problem with that, however, the comments I have seen, and I haven't seen all of them, are simply beyond the pale and some action should be taken.

Based on the comments I have read, I find the consequence of not being able to go on a year-end trip to Montreal to be a little light.
 
1 - 20 of 71 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top