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Lewd Web posting about principal leads to lawsuit, school options
San Antonio Express-News ^ | 09/21/22006 | Ken Rodriguez

Posted on 09/22/2006 1:56:54 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd

I used to think vice principals had it easy. All they did, I thought, was administer licks to wayward students.

Back in the day, they called it "paddling." Today, they call it "child abuse."

Vice principals have among the toughest jobs of all — administering discipline in a hypersensitive, lawsuit-fearing, politically correct public school system.

Try dealing with the student who yells at you, swears at you, threatens you. "That happens everywhere," one school administrator said Thursday.

Then there's the kid who takes aim at your reputation. Ask Anna Draker. As assistant principal at Clark High School, she can tell you all about it.

Over the course of the 2005-06 school year, Draker disciplined one particular student on multiple occasions. In return, the student savaged her in cyberspace.

Last spring, a dean showed Draker a Web page from MySpace.com. On it was her face, lifted from Clark's Web site. Also on the page were lewd comments, obscene pictures and images of sexual devices.

Thanks to an act of student revenge, Draker became an unwitting target of sexual propositions on MySpace. She also became the talk of the school. Almost everyone but Draker seemed to know about the Web page.

The offending male student admitted to making the MySpace post. He did it during nonschool hours, on a computer at home, with help from at least one friend.

For defaming an assistant principal, the student received a three-day suspension.

Was that enough?

I don't think so.

The District Attorney's Office doesn't think so. Prosecutors are pursuing a case against the Web page creator, alleging retaliation and identity theft.

Anna Draker does not think enough was done, either. She is pursuing a lawsuit, alleging defamation against two students and negligent supervision against their parents.

At this point, I can hear moms and dads everywhere going, whoa!

How am I, a single mother, supposed to work, cook, clean, do laundry, review homework and police my three kids on the computer?

Or:

How are we supposed to take one kid to soccer, a second to piano, a third to karate and monitor the fourth on the Internet?

Good questions. Draker's lawsuit will certainly spark debate on parental responsibility.

But I hope the suit answers another question about the wild frontier of cyberspace: What should be done to the student who defames a teacher or administrator on the Internet?

There appears to be little case law on the subject.

In Georgia earlier this year, a science teacher claimed a 15-year-old student defamed him on MySpace. The student wrote that the teacher wrestled alligators and midgets, liked Michael Jackson and enjoyed having "a gay old time."

The teacher filed criminal charges; a Georgia court dismissed them as "unconstitutional."

By comparison, that case pales compared to the one here.

"It's not like somebody called Anna Draker a name," said Murphy Klasing, a Houston lawyer representing the assistant principal. "This was four pages of filth. It rose to a level which was so unbelievably vile, the only thing we could do is what we did."

The suit against the Clark students does not specify the damages sought. Klasing says the intent is not to bankrupt the families — "or the suit would say we're seeking a million dollars" — but to hold them accountable.

Five months after the Web posting, Draker may get her wish. By pursuing charges against the Web page creator, she has given the Northside Independent School District a new disciplinary option.District policy precludes harsh penalties for off-campus transgressions — unless criminal charges are filed.

Now that prosecutors are pursuing the case, NISD could re-assign the student to an alternative school.

"That hasn't taken place," said district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez, "but that is a possibility."

No one knows if the criminal case will collapse, if the civil suit will succeed. It appears Anna Draker may be plowing new legal ground, and that's some job. It's one thing to be an assistant principal. It's another to be a pioneer.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: education; myspace
This relates to two threads.
Principal Sues Students Over MySpace Pictures at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1705495/posts

and Educator sues teens over page on MySpace at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1706558/posts

1 posted on 09/22/2006 1:56:55 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd
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To: Responsibility2nd

I don't like this. File charges against the student if he is old enough to be accountable and kick him out of school. Fine the parents. This is just going to open a can of worms IMO. Parents will have to have kid insurance because it will trickle down to where the parents of 4 y/olds are sued for fighting, and name calling . Where ever there is a buck to be made.......


2 posted on 09/22/2006 2:08:32 PM PDT by CindyDawg
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To: Responsibility2nd
How am I, a single mother, supposed to work, cook, clean, do laundry, review homework and police my three kids on the computer?

Maybe you unplug the computer, take the modem to work with you?

When I say "it works for me", I literally mean it.

3 posted on 09/22/2006 2:10:48 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (Abortion is to family planning what bankruptcy is to financial planning)
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To: Responsibility2nd
How am I, a single mother, supposed to work, cook, clean, do laundry, review homework and police my three kids on the computer?
Or:
How are we supposed to take one kid to soccer, a second to piano, a third to karate and monitor the fourth on the Internet?

Easy.
If you are an incompetent parent, and the little ******** darlings aren't capable of acting civilized, make sure there is no computer in the house that they can have access to...

4 posted on 09/22/2006 2:14:37 PM PDT by Publius6961 (MSM: Israelis are killed by rockets; Lebanese are killed by Israelis.)
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To: Responsibility2nd
Unfortunately, I believe this is the only recourse left to an administrator or teacher. Lawsuits and PC have handcuffed them from doing much of anything else.

This was about the only way she could get these kids' attention. If they're gonna play hardball, they'd better be ready to get hit hard.

5 posted on 09/22/2006 2:15:05 PM PDT by TChris (The United Nations is suffering from delusions of relevance.)
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To: All
So how far will this go? Will you get sued if you put the image of a teacher on your MySpace?
What if you say that teacher gives a lot of homework?


I had a 4th grade teacher who accused me of forging an excuse note from my mother.
Could I have sued her because she defamed me in front of my peers?
Could my parents have sued her?
Can a teacher be sued for derogatory comments on a school website?
The comments may be truthful, but still derogatory. My kids grades are posted by their teachers along with comments. Can I sue if the comments make them unhappy?

The school puts images of kids in different activities. What if it's a bad picture? Can they be sued for posting an unflattering picture?

This case may be a slam dunk but it is a slippery slope in a litigious environment. The lawyers are the only ones who will benefit from this one.
6 posted on 09/22/2006 2:19:19 PM PDT by texan75010
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To: Responsibility2nd
So wait a second! They can sue kids for posting lewd, crude & vile crap about them, but we cannot sue them for filling kids minds with their lewd, crude & vile crap they teach?
7 posted on 09/22/2006 2:24:38 PM PDT by Bommer ( "If they won't listen to reason over there, just kill 'em. Nuke 'em all." - Robert Mitchum)
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To: Responsibility2nd

How am I, a single mother, supposed to work, cook, clean, do laundry, review homework and police my three kids on the computer?

1. don't have kids you can't supervise, mentor or control
If you became a single parent through separation or divorce you have to take steps to at least limit their access to areas of potential trouble
2. unsupervised computer access screams for trouble
It's the same as setting no restrictions or time constraints when they go out at night or travel unsupervised with their friends.
3. Teen children old enough to operate a computer can sure as hell help with cooking and cleaning. If they're not then reappraise your parenting skills lady.

If you are unable to control the kids, at least control their computer access at home.


8 posted on 09/22/2006 2:29:03 PM PDT by Joan Kerrey
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To: Responsibility2nd

The school district suspended the student for only three days. The vice-principal has a slam-dunk suit against the district for maintaining a hostile work environment by failing to expel the student.


9 posted on 09/22/2006 2:34:34 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Do you REALLY believe that (1) God is, and (2) God is good?)
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To: Republicanprofessor; mcvey; JamesP81

Ping to Education Ping List


10 posted on 09/22/2006 2:37:52 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (Abortion is to family planning what bankruptcy is to financial planning)
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To: Hebrews 11:6
I would tend to agree but this garbage happened after school and not on school property. As far as the district is concerned.... they aren't involved.

Besides, they went as far as they are legally allowed to go.

I hope these punk kids lose big in criminal court AND civil court.

11 posted on 09/22/2006 2:41:04 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (Abortion is to family planning what bankruptcy is to financial planning)
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To: Born Conservative; kenth; CatoRenasci; Marie; PureSolace; Congressman Billybob; P.O.E.; cupcakes; ..

Education ping.

Let McVey, JamesP81, or me know if you want on or off the education ping list.


12 posted on 09/22/2006 2:43:23 PM PDT by Republicanprofessor
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To: Responsibility2nd
How are we supposed to take one kid to soccer, a second to piano, a third to karate and monitor the fourth on the Internet?

Gee, I don't know.

How about not having 1-2-3-4 kids if you can't?

13 posted on 09/22/2006 2:50:13 PM PDT by bill1952 ("All that we do is done with an eye towards something else.")
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To: Responsibility2nd
As far as the district is concerned.... they aren't involved.

Ah, but they are, as her lawsuit will demonstrate. This harassment arose as the direct result of her performing her duties on behalf of the district.

Besides, they went as far as they are legally allowed to go.

I doubt it, but if so her suit for millions against the district will soon cause the legislature to recognize districts' potential exposure and create suitable recourse for them. She's got leverage.

14 posted on 09/22/2006 3:09:00 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Do you REALLY believe that (1) God is, and (2) God is good?)
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To: Hebrews 11:6
She's got leverage

Sadly, you may be right.

I would like to think the school district would be on the same page as its administrators and teachers, but I know better. My wife is a teacher.

When push comes to shove, I expect the district might just play "blame the teacher". Or in this case... blame the assistant principal.

15 posted on 09/22/2006 3:30:08 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (Abortion is to family planning what bankruptcy is to financial planning)
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To: Responsibility2nd

bump


16 posted on 09/22/2006 3:32:35 PM PDT by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: Responsibility2nd
When push comes to shove, I expect the district might just play "blame the teacher". Or in this case... blame the assistant principal.

Not likely. To do so would only exacerbate her hostile work environment claim, because any jury would see her innocence and the district's malfeasance. At this point, if she does sue, the district can only minimize the damage by expelling or transferring the "student."

17 posted on 09/22/2006 4:02:45 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6 (Do you REALLY believe that (1) God is, and (2) God is good?)
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To: texan75010
How about identity theft? This kid claimed to be the principal when he created the myspace page. THEN he did all the other crap for which he is being sued. The other kid let him use his computer, so he's guilty, too. Seems to me ID theft is a felony? If he's under 18, he and h is parents are liable for his criminal actions, and if over 18, he is liable himself.
18 posted on 09/22/2006 4:50:28 PM PDT by Old Student (We have a name for the people who think indiscriminate killing is fine. They're called "The Bad Guys)
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To: Hebrews 11:6

The school district suspended the student for only three days. The vice-principal has a slam-dunk suit against the district for maintaining a hostile work environment by failing to expel the student.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Do the other students have a right to sue the school district for forcing them to "socialize" with these delinquents and dealing daily with a hostile environment? What about the student's and their parents First Amendment Right to free association?


19 posted on 09/22/2006 7:35:12 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid)
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To: texan75010

There are two things here that make this a very different case from ordinary name calling: 1) a serious identity theft issue in that the kids allegedly caused the web page to appear to have been created and posted by the vice principal herself and 2) the web page directly stated the vice principal was a lesbian, when she wasn't, a definite, actionable libel. If the kids had stuck to name calling, parody, disclosure of provable facts, and their own opinions, then she wouldn't have a case.


20 posted on 09/23/2006 6:16:55 AM PDT by libstripper (!!)
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I think the parents should be held responsible. It may take a village to raise a child but that is not an excuse not to know what your kids are up to. I cannot believe there is a parent foolish enough NOT to closely monitor their child's computer use thus allowing them the time to make such a defamatory entry to My Space. When do the excuses stop and the responsibility begin?
21 posted on 12/06/2006 6:03:55 PM PST by Mme_Martin
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