Freedom of Facebook Speech

After having problems with her English teacher, a Florida high school student created a Facebook group called “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever had” and asked others to post their comments. The student later received a three-day suspension for cyberbullying. Since then, with the help of the ACLU, she has received permission from the courts to sue her school’s principal, for violating her First Amendment rights.

What do you think? The group was not threatening the teacher, just stating an opinion about the quality of her instruction. What would have happened if a disgruntled teacher created a page saying “Student X is the worst pupil I’ve ever had,” without revealing any grades or specifics about academic performance? Aside from questions of professional behavior, how far does freedom of speech extend in education?


Gentile, C. (2010, February 15). Student suspended for Facebook page can sue. The New York Times. Retrieved from

word count, not including References = 135


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