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Student Suspended For Facebook Writings May Proceed With Lawsuit
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A federal judge has ruled that Katherine Evans, a former student at Pembroke Pines Charter School in Florida, may proceed with her lawsuit. Evans sued her former vice principal after she was suspended for 3 days for creating a Facebook page criticizing a teacher. The school claims Evans engaged in cyber bullying her teacher, Sarah Phelps.  Then high school senior Evans created a page titled, “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever had” and invited students of Phelps to post their opinions. Some students supported the teacher and others expressed negative opinions. After a few days Evans took down the page. Two months later she ran into trouble with the school over the page.

Evans wants to have her suspension expunged from her disciplinary record and seeks a “nominal fee” for what she argues was a violation of her First Amendment rights and to pay her legal fees. Former Principal Peter Bayer asked that the case be dismissed but Magistrate Judge Barry L. Garber denied Bayer’s petition and rejected his claim of qualified immunity. One of Evans lawyers, Maria Kayanan (associate legal director of the ACLU of Florida) said in response to the decision, “This is an important victory both for Ms. Evans and Internet free speech…because it upholds the principle that the right to freedom of speech and expression in America does not depend on the technology used to convey opinions and ideas.”

  
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