Has your school stayed abreast of new technologies and their dangers? Katherine Koestner gives good reasons to take them seriously.

Today’s school administrators have to deal with a host of new student safety issues now that the “wireless” generation is on campus. Schools should respond by maintaining both comprehensive policies and the technological hardware to enforce them. If you haven’t already begun your school’s technological update, the following real world cases might spur you to action:

A high school senior created a profile for his principal at MySpace.com. It contained jokes about the principal being overweight, smoking a “big blunt,” and being too drunk to remember his last birthday. The student received a 10-day suspension, among other punishments. A federal judge ruled that the school acted unconstitutionally and ordered a jury trial to determine whether the student is entitled to compensatory damages for the violation of his First Amendment rights.

A senior ranked number three in his class was struggling in his biology class. He hacked into his teacher’s website from his home computer and gained access to the upcoming biology test. As a punishment, he received a failing grade and a 5-day suspension. The school and the student’s parents have led complaints against one another in court. The case is pending.

Two male seniors created a website that posted names, phone numbers, family history, and what were said to be sexual exploits of over 40 females in their school. An estimated 14 boys had the password that was required to view and add to the page content. This website was created on school computers. When the administration found out, the two students received a 5-day suspension from school without a hearing and were charged with second-degree harassment. The district attorney announced a few days later that the boys’ actions did not meet the definition of harassment and that the charges were dropped.

A cheerleading coach was suspended in October 2007 for an inappropriate video of a cheerleading routine she performed in class and posted on YouTube.com. The teacher rallied the support of students
and parents to protest the actions of the administrators until they gave in, not only letting her continue to teach, but paying her for the time she was out.

A 13-year-old girl was videotaped via cell phone as another girl beat her up in a locker room. The video was posted on YouTube.com by the girl who filmed the fight where it was viewed over 6,600 times. The victim’s parents argued that the school should be held responsible for getting the video on YouTube.

If issues like these have not yet reached your campus, it is only a matter of time. Make sure you are prepared before they do.

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