Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers
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Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers
articles about libel and slander from today's schools
Curated by Rudy Zacher
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Campus Weblines: Censorship, Libel and Privacy

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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 12, 2012 12:11 PM
This online book is a guide for starting up a new school paper or online paper and chapter 5 describes the importance of the editors job to review articles for legal issues. Although the First Amendment protects the rights of writers, they must still be making truthful statements that are not intentionally damaging to someone. "Truth is the absolute defense for libel." As an example of students wrongfully making statements online, the website ,RateMyTeacher.com, provides a place for students to write reviews on teachers they have had in class. In some cases the students writing extremely hurtful comments have been found responsible for defamatory conduct. In one case a professor was awarded $3 million based on a students false claim online.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:02 PM
Love that you started your scoop page with the quote "truth is the absolute defense for libel" What was the case where professor was awarded damages? This is relevant in terms of the "brave new world" where seemingly anything goes regarding commentary on the internet.
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College dean's libel suit against school paper dismissed | Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

College dean's libel suit against school paper dismissed | Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 12, 2012 12:51 PM
A journalist for the school newspaper at St. Cloud University twisted a quote to make the dean of the school sound like a racist. The paper later wrote a letter of apology in the newspaper and the journalist interviewed colleagues to publish quotes to overcome the first racist quote. The dean tried to sue the school because he was not given a chance to redeem himself at make comments to be put into the newspaper. For previous articles the dean had declined to comment on or even did not reply back to phone calls to comment on anything for the paper. This showed the paper staff that he was not interested in what they were doing so they did not contact him for involvement in the article. Because the dean was fulfilling his duties as a public official, the court "found that Lewis was a public figure in his capacity as dean. In order to prove defamation, public figures must show that the defendants published the statement in question either knowing it was false or with "reckless disregard" for the truth."
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:13 PM

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excellent selection in this case which helps to interpret the limits of freedom of expression -- public figures (including teachers) must endure greater range of derogatory behavior--but when a professionals reputation is at stake, defamation law comes into play
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Defamation of Character: Libel and Slander in a Writers World

Defamation of Character: Libel and Slander in a Writers World | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
Write, but know the law!Protect yourself from lawsuits...
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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 12, 2012 1:01 PM
I included this article because it is a simple resources of libel and slander. It breaks down the terms by definition, and then sets parameters for each. Libel is written word or visual artwork that can be used to make charges against someone. Slander is spoken word and is harder to prove so therefore harder to charge someone with. There are also links at the bottom of examples of libel and slander and also links to other resources. I think that as a teacher this would be a good guide to use when writing anything about colleagues and also to use with students to make sure that they are writing to help not to hurt people.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:15 PM
right--many teachers have been fired lately, even for vague commentary about students--while teachers are asked to endure mean spirited comments more than other citizens, they are held to a higher standard than others for their own comments
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Clarion - Cleveland High School - Sex, Slander and Cyberspace

Clarion - Cleveland High School - Sex, Slander and Cyberspace | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
Cleveland High School Portland, OR - “Ever have that totally freakish feeling that someone is listening in on your conversations?”
     So begins the introduction to—no, not a tawdry tween paperback—but Cleveland’s own Gossip Girl and her website.
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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 12, 2012 1:45 PM
The gossip girl series (both books and tv show) have opened the doors to regular school girls creating clubs and websites for the use documenting their peers life... who is with who, where are they, what are they doing. On top of this is the creation of the burn book. Where hurtful comments are written about peers. These are both types of cyber-bullying. This can also be considered a type of libel. Students need to be informed of the legal action that can be taken against them if they participate in these types of activities. Teachers can also be in the "know" in this area by paying attention to what is going on within in their classrooms. Odds are that someone will be talking about it loud enough for the teacher to hear.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:24 PM
Great point--cites created specifically for the purpose of malicious verbal behavior are vulnerable to defamation law--and in a few cases children have been found criminally liable for these harmful sites
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Small-Town Gossip Moves to the Web, Anonymous and Vicious

Small-Town Gossip Moves to the Web, Anonymous and Vicious | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
As more people share gossip over the Internet rather than over coffee and eggs, anonymous, and startlingly negative, posts have provoked fights, divorce and worse.
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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 13, 2012 4:36 PM
"In the small towns nestled throughout the Ozarks, people like to say that everybody knows everybody’s business — and if they do not, they feel free to offer an educated guess." The topics of the rumors have moved from slanderous mouths to libelous typing on the internet. The article provides a link to the forum in which this is happening. If you take the time to click onto it and find some comments from the citizens of this small rumor mill you are sure to be shocked. These types of websites prove exactly what teachers of today's children should be teaching their students NOT to do.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:25 PM
yes..good point----the defamation epidemic online is a cancer to human relations--and yet, we really cannot go down the road of invasion of personal privacy as a means of curbing this behavior...this requires a massive concerted social effort--which I don't see happening any time soon
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Accused Bully Awarded $5 Million In Libel Case | CFR Mediation Services

Accused Bully Awarded $5 Million In Libel Case | CFR Mediation Services | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
A jury awarded accused bully Kevin Webb $5 million in damages. Bullying, harassment, or incidents of violence are subjective and cannot be objectively proven.
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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 12, 2012 12:34 PM
One of the strongest statements I believe in this article is "we tend to want to determine the truth of allegations of bullying, harassment, or other forms of violence." In my opinion slander could be considered bullying, harassment and violence. In this case a student was called a bully in the paper. He was awarded $5 million dollars because he claimed that he was not a bully and it was libelous to call him that. What is ironic is that he was charged for beating up his accuser and accuser's father before the article calling him a bully came out. If his accuser would have specifically said that in his opinion the boy who beat him up was a bully, then the bully would probably not have gotten $5 million dollars!
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:27 PM
Yes, this case seems to illustrate the absurdity of our some court decisions which do a disservice to the intent of law--which is to protect citizens--this case seems to subvert this intent.
Vikki Howard's comment, September 3, 2012 1:06 AM
There are explicit principles of slander/libel that limit the First Amendment--in other words, American citizens cannot say whatever they want to whomever they want; specifically, we must not use language to harm another person's reputation or profession. Cyber-bullying takes us into murky waters where educators must attempt to both protect their students while also protecting the constitution
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Constitutional - A Former High School Coach Can Sue Parents for Defamation

Constitutional - A Former High School Coach Can Sue Parents for Defamation | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
A former high school coach may be able to sue his parental tormentors for defamation.
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Jase Miller's comment, September 1, 2012 1:42 PM
This article is interesting. It states that coaches and referrees are protected against physical attacks but no state protects them from verbal attacks. This is not true. I am a wrestling referee in Montana and we are protected from both physical and verbal abuse at least while refereeing. This case centers around the high school basketball coach that was fired from his position and would sue the parents for defamation. The courts are currently trying to prove that the statements made by the parents: a) were false, b) were made to a third party, and c) caused him to suffer some loss of reputation or other damages. I for one hope that this coach is reinstated.

Vikki Howard's comment, September 2, 2012 11:49 PM
Coaches (and players) (and officials) suffer terrible abuse by fan(atics), who for some reason feel that they have the right to act uncivilized at any sports venue. I was a student at Ohio State, and after attending my first game and listening to an octogenarian screaming wildly at the 19 year old players on the field throughout the game quit going to games; It will be very interesting to see if this coach prevails--Good summary of principles of law that may be in play in this suit.
Vikki Howard's comment, September 3, 2012 12:06 AM
Coaches (and players) (and officials) suffer terrible abuse by fan(atics), who for some reason feel that they have the right to act uncivilized at any sports venue. I was a student at Ohio State, and after attending my first game and listening to an octogenarian screaming wildly at the 19 year old players on the field throughout the game quit going to games; It will be very interesting to see if this coach prevails-You bring up several important implications of defamation related to sports and social media.
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Stop the Slander of Inner-City Parents | Liberty Unbound

Stop the Slander of Inner-City Parents | Liberty Unbound | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 12, 2012 1:23 PM
My first thought about the beginning of this article "what an ignorant jerk." But as I continued to read the article I was cheering for the author. What an eye opening article for some people. I also thought that the comments on the article were above most article comments where the people writing them make themselves look like they're 5 years old. The writer of the article uses a lot of satire and malice to get his point across.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:34 PM
I had to read the article after reading your comments--this blogger is using the term slander --but I agree, he does bring up an important issue
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Defamation of Character

Defamation of Character | Libel and Slander Affecting Students and Teachers | Scoop.it
National newsmagazine committed to enhancing the entire social work profession by exploring its difficult issues, new challenges, proud past, and current successes.
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Rudy Zacher's comment, February 12, 2012 1:35 PM
I chose this article because hospitals have to follow a lot of the rules regarding patients and schools do regarding students. It also had good suggestions for anyone who is writing a report (or even a note home to parents) about how to write without bias and to clear yourself of negativity so that the writing will not be malicious. This can help protect yourself from committing defamation of character.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 18, 2012 4:36 PM
anything we can learn about ways to treat others with respect and dignity helps us, not just legally, but ethically and makes our society a better place--thanks for including this article