Vermilion Parish student gets suspended because of Facebook comment about his principal

Vermilion Parish school board attorney explains what is legal to say and what is not legal to say on Facebook

A Vermilion Parish high school student got two days suspension for a Facebook posting concerning his principal last week. It may be the first time a Vermilion Parish student gets suspended for a Facebook posting about an administrator.

 Although the posting does not say the name of the principal, it refers to “you” multiple times and speaks about another principal prior to the arrival of “you.”  

Some comments looked to be directed to the principal and not mere statements about him. 

Vermilion Parish School Board attorney “Woody” Woodruff could not comment about the student’s suspension. However, he did explain what type of postings can get students in trouble.

Woodruff said two students talking about the coaching staff at a certain school and saying the staff stinks is not a punishable offense.  If a student posts on Facebook that the coaching staff is the reason why the team has a losing record, then the students cannot be disciplined.

“Although this type behavior is not condoned, students have first amendment rights to freedom of speech” said Woodruff. 

If a student is over heard saying Principal Joe-Joe is a terrible principal and stinks as an administrator, he or she will not be suspended. If someone posts something on Facebook specifically naming a teacher or administrator, Woodruff said, the student will not be suspended. 

However, a student can not go up to a teacher or administrator and tell them to their face, “You stink as a coach and teacher.” On Facebook, if a student writes, “Mrs Tater, you need to quit because you are the worst teacher ever.” Woodruff said because the post is directed to Mrs Tater, the student would be suspended. 

 “A student can be disciplined for showing direct disrespect to a teacher or administrator. We have rules about disrespectful behavior,” he added. “It is about direct disrespect.”

Last week, Woodruff had meetings with all the administrators and teachers and educated them on what they should or should not post on social media about topics dealing with education.  He informed them there is a “blurred line” about what is acceptable, so  he made it simple, “Do not talk about your professional lives on Facebook,” said Woodruff.  “By no means should you ever talk about a student or fellow employee on Facebook.”

 

 

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