Student Suspended for Facebook Slam

Parents consider lawsuit

By Andrew Greiner
|  Monday, Feb 22, 2010  |  Updated 1:24 PM PDT
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Justin Bird's school photo.

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In a move sure to stir up privacy rights issues, a Chicao area student has suspended a student for five days over some comments he made about a teacher on Facebook.

Oak Forest High School suspended honor student Justin Bird for creating the Facebook fan page "Anyone who has had a bad experience or plain dislikes [teacher’s name],” and allegedly calling the teacher derogatory names. But the boy’s family says not so fast, a Chicago newspaper reports.

Donna Bird, the sophomore’s mother, contends the school has no jurisdiction since Justin posted the comments on his own time, on his own computer in his own home. They’re considering a lawsuit and want the suspension expunged from his record before he applies to colleges.

The American Civil Liberties Union thinks they may have a case.

The story is something that will certainly be watched closely here in the Bay Area where Facebook is based.

"Absent of some kind of threat, it's not clear what authority a school district has to punish a student using his own resources, in his own home and on his own time," spokesman Ed Yohnka told the paper.

Apparently Bird and the unnamed teacher had beef in the past.

His mother told the paper Justin has been embroiled in a conflict since the beginning of the year but he decided to make the fan (or anti-fan) page on Feb. 9.

Justin said the page was up for just five days and that it garnered 50 fans. He relented, and took the page down the next weekend. He said no one posted any negative comments to the page.

His taking the page down did nothing to allay the school’s administration. He was reprimanded on Feb. 15, one day after removing the page.

School officials say he can have the discipline removed from his record if he completes an anger-management program.
 

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