Is Cyber-Bullying A Free Speech Issue?

Katherine Evans while in high school is suing the principal of Pines Charter High School in Miami for violating her freedom of speech rights because he suspended her for three days after Ms. Evans created a Facebook group based on one of her teachers. The group was named “Mrs. Sarah Phelps is the worse teacher I ever met” and attracted three students who joined in order to praise the teacher. The principal found out about the group and suspended Ms.Evans for cyber bullying and disruptive behavior. A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union does not seek monetary damages but asks the school to remove the suspension from her record because that action “stained(Evan’s) academic record and violated her First Amendment rights.”

The case raises many questions as to whether freedom of speech is allowed when an individual establishes a web site for the sole purpose of damaging the reputation of another. This blog is committed to the principle of free speech, but the Evans situation is somewhat different because it was more than free speech. It also entailed a deliberate effort to drive an individual from her job and create tension and disruption in the classroom. What if ten or fifteen of the teacher’s students went to the Facebook site and expressed insults and derogatory statement about Ms. Phelps which resulted in the loss of a job. Does Ms. Phelps also have constitutional rights?

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  • unified4truth

    This was in no way freedom of speech – this is not on.

    You can’t go on, make all the steps to start a Facebook page in the name of hatred, contempt, and to attack another person and call this “freedom of speech”.

    Being abusive is not correct, and should not be hidden behind so-called “freedom of speech”.

    The principal acted accordingly and rightly. If a student was being bullied the same way by another student, then there will be an outcry to have that bully being suspended.