For any high school or university student who “Facebooks” (apparently now a verb), a recent decision by a federal magistrate in Florida should come as welcome news. The magistrate’s February 12th ruling supported the right of a student to post an entry on Facebook critical of her English teacher. The Facebook entry, posted by then-senior Katherine Evans in November 2007, contained nothing obscene or inapproriate, nor did it counsel violence or any other improper act; it simply vented Ms. Evans’ frustration that the teacher, Sarah Phelps, was “the worst teacher” she’d ever had.
For having the audacity to post such an opinion on her own — not the school’s — Facebook page, Ms. Evans was suspended and moved from her advanced placement English class into another, less-weighted class. The specific reasons for these disciplinary actions included “cyberbullying,” “harassment,” and “disruptive behavior.” That’s right. A student who criticizes a teacher on her own computer and