Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education
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Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education
Learn about how slander and libel legally affect teachers, administrators and students
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Defamation, Libel and Slander Law

Information about the defamation torts, libel and slander.
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Amber Walter's comment, February 15, 2012 1:34 PM
This article provides background information about defamation, slander, and libel. It includes what the court will be looking for in a lawsuit, such as personal injury and truth vs. opinion. There is also information about how the laws relate to public officials. This is the article to read if any of the information in the other articles posted here is confusing.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:07 PM
Good advice Amber--you have seen that interpretation of defamation law can be confusing and sometimes contradictory--and the many factors upon which a case may be balanced--particularly as the law related to public figures--teachers, as public figures are in a unique position of having little power and prestige (which usually accompany the public figure status) and very great vulnerability
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Cyberbullying and Litigation: Know the Steps to Filing a Case Against Your Child's Bully | Education.com

Cyberbullying and Litigation: Know the Steps to Filing a Case Against Your Child's Bully | Education.com | Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education | Scoop.it
Cyberbullying involves mean or threatening messages or images using technology. As a last resort, parents can seek legal help when trying to stop cyberbullying.
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 1:46 PM
This article specifically points out that schools are slow to react to cyberbullying. It is extremely important that if a parent makes complaints to address the bullying issue. Recently court cases have focused around the cyberbulling of administration, but not that of students. Most cases are involving bullying refer to the free speech case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) [393 U.S. 503]. States have begun to create anti-bullying legislation, which in the future will hopefully make students' free speech rights more clear.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:11 PM
The courts have not helped here--I think fearing to tread into this bottomless swamp of mendacity and bumping up against the first amendment. Europe is far ahead of the United States in dealing social and legally with the issue of cyberbullying, but I believe it is our most significant social challenge--if we cannot find a way to teach and reinforce each other to be civil in cyberspace, a pattern of behavior that has spilled its toxicity into the real world--there is no hope that humans with different points of view will be able to communicate effectively to solve the important issues of our time
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Former student sues Fla. district for libel over student newspaper photo - SPLC News Flashes

Former student sues Fla. district for libel over student newspaper photo - SPLC News Flashes | Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education | Scoop.it
Former student sues Fla.district for libel over student newspaper photo...
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 3:23 PM
This case is important for educators and students to be aware of because it involves a school newspaper. Many schools have students publish school newspapers. It is important that the students involved with the newspaper know about libel and slander. This article also refers to Sisley v. Seattle Public School District No. 1 (2011) [King City Sup. Court, No. 10-2-10522-1 SEA], in which a school district was not found liable for the comments published in a school newspaper. The case is currently being appealed . As an educator it is very important to teach the students about legal issues involving publishing so they can make educated decisions.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:12 PM
What was your conclusion regarding application of principles of defamation based upon the facts as you understand them from this case...do you believe the students crossed the line?
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Former Coach Suing For Slander

A former basketball coach and teacher at Booker T. Washington High School is suing his former athletic director and seven others.
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 4:11 PM
This will be an interesting case to follow. It brings us some important issues, including the ability of public figures to sue for libel. The case of New York Times v. Sullivan (1962, 376 U.S. 254) found that public officials must prove that the libelous statements were made with malice, or with an intent to do harm and/or knowledge that the statements were false. In Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974, 418 U.S. 323) this was extended to public figures. As a field was named in honor of the coach, he may be seen as a public figure and therefore would have to prove that the libelous statements were made with malice. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:15 PM
Yes, I believe this case may meet the dual challenges of actual malice by defendants who wished to undermine the reputation of the coach in order to stop the imminent recognition...and the defamation on its face of significantlyharming the reputation..As you said, the coach has the burden of proving malice and of proving that the statements were false (another difficult task--as it is harder to disprove a falsehood than it is to prove the truth)
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Online Student Speech Appeals Rejected By Supreme Court

Online Student Speech Appeals Rejected By Supreme Court | Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education | Scoop.it
PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Supreme Court has passed up a set of cases for the online age – whether schools may censor students who are off-campus when they create online attacks against school officials and other students.
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 4:00 PM
This article shows just how much confusion there is on how school districts should handle cyberbullying. The Supreme Court has recently rejected appeals which would have created clarification on the responsibilities of schools in dealing with cyberbullying. Cases that have been seen in lower courts have only muddled the responsibilities and liability of schools. Teachers and students need to keep aware of state legislation and federal litigation for future clarification as to what constitutes libel in regards to cyberbullying.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:20 PM
Great article--which affirms my conclusion that the courts really don't want to get dirty on this one...There is very much at stake--either way the court decides to go. I think the solution lies in educators making a concerted effort to model, teach and reinforce empathy, kindness, interpersonal and self-efficacy--Schools must work in concert with parents rather than blaiming parents, parents must work in concert with schools rather than blaiming them--and we all must work to educate the general public on the benefits of human dignity--the current presidential primaries are a great example of the degree to which bullying is permitted, expected and reinforced
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Myth Debunked: Palestinian Textbooks Don't Teach Hatred

Myth Debunked: Palestinian Textbooks Don't Teach Hatred | Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education | Scoop.it
Fact-checking sites, pundits and politicians failed to deal with the issue. And despite the AP story, no major American journalist, columnist, debater or think tank has demanded that Gingrich apologize for this brazen lie.
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 1:21 PM
This is important for educators to think about when looking at textbooks as well in listening to the news. Not everything we hear is the truth and slander of groups still occurs, including by government officials. In this case there will not be a lawsuit as the slander was not made against a specific person, but instead about a country.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:25 PM
This article is an excellent reminder that schools are at the nexus of political and social priorities--and the two do not mix well. Citizens in our "digital age" have an impossible time parsing truth from intentional misinformation--It is no wonder we have lost our way. When truth is inconvenient to a political purpose, it is as if truth is irrelevant.
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Can Parents Sue for Cyberbullying?

Can Parents Sue for Cyberbullying? | Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education | Scoop.it
The term cyberbullying has become part of most Americans' vocabulary, after surfacing in high schools and universities nationwide.
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 1:54 PM
Many states are passing laws making it easier for administration to deal with cases of bullying. It is often still a struggle for parents/students to sue for defamation (both slander and libel). For these cases the victim must prove actual harm and that the comments were based on fact or could be associated with facts. This can be a costly challenge for victims. Future cases will hopefully help define the limits and definition of bullying.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:27 PM
You have hit it.. the cost of proving defamation is more than monetary, the stress, emotional battering, and sometimes suicide are of more significance--and how are those costs recouped by winning... really...
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Law School Dropouts Sue Their School | JD Journal

Law School Dropouts Sue Their School | JD Journal | Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education | Scoop.it
Few law school drop-outs would admit they deserve their fate; two former students from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law are doing...
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 3:34 PM
This article is important because it addresses whether or not teachers can be sued, including defamation, for giving students bad grades. In a similar case, Smith ex rel. Smith v. Revere Local School Dist. Board of Edu. (2001 WL 489980), it was determined that teachers who grade in good faith cannot be held liable. It is definitely important that educators remember not to post grades with a student's name for privacy reasons.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:29 PM
This too is an important case--one that is relevant to all educators and the principle of academic freedom. I have had many students ask me to change their grades--I understand the pressure to be successful in our competitive society. I cannot see these studenta winning for the very reasons you have provided--excellent interpretation counselor
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BBC NEWS | UK | England | Friends Reunited user pays damages

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Friends Reunited user pays damages | Legal Aspects of Slander & Libel Affecting Education | Scoop.it
A former teacher wins a pay-out over libellous remarks made on a website for old schoolfriends.
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Amber Walter's comment, February 13, 2012 3:52 PM
We have all had teachers that we did not like. The case in this article is similar to cases in the US. The important part is that one can still be held liable for defamatory comments made about teacher/administration after one graduates. In this case the comments were made on a website in which you connect with old classmates and comment on teachers. Myedu.com is a similar website in the US. One important issue in all libel cases is that the comment must be based on fact, one must be able to prove that the comment is incorrect. Often times comments made cannot proven to be true or false and therefore are usually dismissed in court.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 19, 2012 2:35 PM
Another important case...again, very difficult to disprove a lie..similar websites give students a weapon to target teachers. Another way to make the educational enviroment hostile and unproductive. While purportedly giving voice to students, the results are often unbalanced, with disgruntled students much more likely to post than satisfied students--moreover the vehemence we see on other social discussion boards is often decidely mean spirited. Teachers on the other hand have been consistently severely punished for making disparaging remarks--even general ones on presumably private sites; Clearly neither do anything to improve or even sustain a productive educational environment--the balance leans heavily in favor of freedom of expression by students over freedom of expression by teachers.