Words that can kill
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Words that can kill
Articles about Slander and Libel in the School system
Curated by Ricki Weickum
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Dana Busted: #LoeschFail alert: Dana Loesch falsely slandering Missouri college teachers as "Commies," "union thugs"

Dana Busted: #LoeschFail alert: Dana Loesch falsely slandering Missouri college teachers as "Commies," "union thugs" | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
Over the past couple of days, serial liar Dana Loesch has promoted flagrant falsehoods about UMSL and UMKC, saying that she claims to have "tapes of UMSL/UMKC teachers encouraging Communism and 'union violence'." Of course, the tapes were edited...
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Ricki Weickum's comment, February 14, 2012 10:53 PM
I think that this article is important because it shows an example of how technology is helping with slander and libel. Technology is so advanced and can make people believe things that are untrue. In this article Dana Leosch cut and edited video's to make two university instructors apparently advocating for union violence. If the two professors decided to sue for libel, Dana would not be able to claim the first amendment because it is “actual malice” which means that the defendant made the libelous or slanderous statements either knowing that they were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth of the statement. But on the other hand of this case materials that are posted on websites or found are on the internet are usually not found for the right to sue for defamation. In a Texas case, Draker v. Schreiber 2008, the courts supported the dismissal of the lawsuit because the “exaggerated and derogatory statements” were not assertion of fact that could be objectively verified, they were not defamatory as a matter of the law. This brings us to what needs to change about the law. With us being a technological society we need to start protecting all from the slander and libel that can occur through the internet or other forms of technology.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 1:43 AM
I agree with you Richelle--legal direction lags far behind the malice taking place on the internet--I think judges are loath to climb into the ditch because of there is a preference for protecting first amendment rights--this is really a larger social issue that requires thoughtful proactive intervention by teachers, families, children themselves--to find a way to reel this behavior in..Great explanation of key legal principles of defamation
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Teacher Disciplined After Writing 'Stupid' On Student's Forehead

Teacher Disciplined After Writing 'Stupid' On Student's Forehead | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
A teacher is in big trouble and about to lose his job over a single word and a permanent marker. The middle school math teacher wrote the word "stupid" across a student's forehead.
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Ricki Weickum's comment, February 15, 2012 1:26 AM
d.ii. I thought that this is important to teachers because it is an example of what kind of moral that you need to keep in your classroom. You kind of joking may not be seen as appropriate and you must be careful to keep a professional attitude with your students. I was also curious in this case to see if the student had any legal right to sue the teacher for libel. The book says that if the teacher knowingly spreads false gossip that harms a student's reputation, the teacher can then be found to have slandered the student. Although the teacher states to be joking about writing “stupid” on the child's head, the teacher had to of known that it was false and could have caused harm. I would believe that this student has a case against the teacher for slander and libel. It was a very inappropriate thing to do and just one word can ruin a child's self esteem and reputation for the rest of that child's schooling.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 1:47 AM
now that was "stupid!" I am not surprised the teacher is looking at loss of employment--what was he thinking--Yes, I guess one could make the case for libel--he won't have the school district supporting him though..geezzz!
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Students who slander - TEACHER HUNT false accusations against ...

Students who slander - TEACHER HUNT false accusations against ... | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
teacher sues false accuser's family for defamation. http://www.allbusiness.com/legal/torts-intentional-torts-libel-slander/12096266-1.html I would expect to see more of this as the carnage c... Letter from hunted teacher- an all ...
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Ricki Weickum's comment, February 15, 2012 5:53 PM
d.ii. I thought that this article was important because it made me wonder how comfortable teachers would be posting about students. I looked through this site and felt very uncomfortable reading about these students and watching the videos. I don't believe that teachers should be posting these comments or videos whether past or present teachers. I was wondering if a student found this site and it was about them could they sue for libel. I know the whole thing on the internet but other than that would they have a case. In Davidson v. Walter case a senior sued his high school principal and a teacher for citing derogatory remarks about an incident that happened where he was expelled. So technically couldn't this website been seen as a teachers lounge where teachers come to complain about their students. I thought that this was a very interesting site.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 1:55 AM
Good find--my understanding is that this site is devoted to discussion of false accusations (defamation) by students against teachers--it was only a matter of time before such a site evolved, because teachers must feel battered with no place to go given the widespread verbal violence in cyberspace--I think after a teacher leaves the profession they are no longer considered public figures so it is harder to prosecute for defamation--but certainly not immune...brave new world!
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SkiCo Sued For Slander | Articles | The Vile Plutocrat

[ADN] A former instructor for the Aspen Skiing Co. who was fired in 2011 after questioning beginning ski teachers' low pay and emailing colleagues about possibly unionizing is suing the company's CEO for libel.
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Ricki Weickum's comment, February 15, 2012 6:12 PM
d.ii. This article is about a case where a former ski instructor is suing the company that he taught at for libel. The instructor was emailing the colleagues about unionizing about low pay and was fired after the directors had heard about it. He is seeking more that $15,000 for statements made in letters to the editor about the dismissal. As we can't tell from the article we don't know if the “false statements” were made about the teacher's professional performance. We also don't know whether or not it is false. In Mulcahy v. Deitrick a statement was said by the president and was found to be defamatory. This article was important because it shows me what could happen if you try and rock the boat in your school. Word spread fast around a school and you are watched all the time. So you need to think before you speak or act with whatever you do.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 1:57 AM
yes...management, across history has notoriously punished "boat-rockers" which is not a good reason to stay quiet when it is important to be an advocate and have a voice--but it is good to be aware of risks
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Oakland University student fighting suspension over 'Hot for Teacher' writings - Detroit Free Press

Oakland University student fighting suspension over 'Hot for Teacher' writings - Detroit Free Press | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
WXYZOakland University student fighting suspension over 'Hot for Teacher' writingsDetroit Free PressMANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press By Tammy Stables Battaglia Joe Corlett, 56, of Orion Township was escorted out of his Oakland University creative...
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Ricki Weickum's comment, February 15, 2012 6:44 PM
d.ii. I thought that this article was interesting because how public does it have to be to be libel or slander. In this article a student wrote about a teacher in derogatory terms in a note book that the class was assigned to write in. The notebook is now in the hands of a free speech activist group. He was banned from campus after a fiasco and now is taking online classes and hopes to be back in school. My question is if he is committing libel. I wonder how many people would have to see it to be considered libel. Just one? I would feel very awkward if my students were writing about me in a sexual fantasy for a class assignment. I know that this is inappropriate and would be happy to never see it in a classroom but does the teacher have a case against the students?
Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 1:58 AM
That is a good question--and it is a legal question--out textbook has the answer; if statements or comments are not shared then they are not slanderous/libelous--but if they are shared, how much sharing is illegal?
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Rector's Slander Suit Against Former Teacher and Hetq Continues ...

Rector's Slander Suit Against Former Teacher and Hetq Continues ... | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
In an attempt to prove her point that employment processes were being rigged at the school, defendant Ashoughyan brought to the court's attention the matter of the 2011 election to hire a dean for the pedagogical faculty.
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Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 1:59 AM
no comment Richelle?
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Cyberbaiting: Students Push Teachers to Meltdown

Cyberbaiting: Students Push Teachers to Meltdown | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
Schools and cyber safety experts worry about escalating teen trend.
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Vikki Howard's comment, September 3, 2012 12:03 AM
I agree that this is a very serious twist in the whole cyber-bullying epidemic--when students intentionally attempt to provoke teachers into losing their cool--the consequences are grave. The incidence I mentioned in class, where a veteran teacher lost his cool when he was shot in the face with a marsh-mellow may be an instance of cyber-baiting--this teacher has a family and lost his livelihood--there is a larger issue here; What is the relationship between this behavior and defamation?
Bo Herak's comment, September 3, 2012 9:09 PM
This was my favorite article I found doing this assignment. It's a great article for teachers to read and beware of whats going on in their classroom and how you have to be so careful with what you do and say in the classroom, because with technology you can never becareful enough. This article talks about how teachers are being pushed over the top and freaking out on their students and then other students record the teacher losing it on the students then post it on the internet via youtube, facebook, ect. Just know as a teacheryou have to be very careful, with what you do and say in class because you never know if theres a camera on you. This article talks of a few court cases on which these happen such as a teacher spitting on a student in class.
Vikki Howard's comment, September 9, 2012 10:55 PM
I agree that this trend is ominous--when students deliberately try to provoke teachers into overreacting -- I feel sure they don't intend to ruin a person's career, or really to even understand what it means to ruin a teacher's reputation. Yes, teachers must be hyperaware of reaction, but more importantly, we need to develop relationships with students and foster a greater sense of interpersonal responsibility so that generations of students will be more responsible with technology. This sounds similar to the behavior of some youth who drive around swearing and harassing individuals in order to provoke a reaction, videotape the reactions and post on the net, though the consequences are much more serious here. Does this behavior fall under defamation? and if so, how--you mentioned court cases at the end of your comments--which ones? outcome? How did these cases inform your understanding?
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Lessons for Hyperlocal Publishers in Cheerleader's Defamation Suit - Street Fight

Lessons for Hyperlocal Publishers in Cheerleader's Defamation Suit - Street Fight | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
Street FightLessons for Hyperlocal Publishers in Cheerleader's Defamation SuitStreet FightThe gossip site TheDirty.com learned this lesson the hard way on January 10th, when a Federal Judge in Kentucky refused to throw out a defamation claim...
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Ricki Weickum's comment, February 14, 2012 11:48 PM
In this article it gives teachers an example of what slander and libel look like. I have never really seen a libel or slander case before so it was nice to see what one can look like. In this article a gossip sight added their own defamatory statements into their article toward a cheerleader and the courts didn't throw out the claim because the gossip site was responsible, in part, for the objectionable content for the following reasons: the site had added “tag lines” to the posting, the editors only selected small percentages from the posting, editors reviewed the postings without verifying their accuracy and the site refused to remove certain objectionable postings. In this article I also learned about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which can provide hyperlocal publishers with certain immunity from copyright claims for content posted by users. I also learned about the Communications Decency Act which is a law that declares that no provider of an interactive service should be treated as a publisher of information provided by another information content provider. It also offers limited immunity to publisher against claims for libel and defamation for content posted by users. There are a lot of laws and you have to be vary careful on how you read and interpret them before posting things onto the internet and other places that can be seen by others.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 2:05 AM
When you are a teacher--please, be very careful about the comments you post--better yet, stay away from public posting sites--protect yourself, protect your integrity, protect your students...
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News Roundup—Law Students Sue Over Bad Grades; IP Partner ...

News Roundup—Law Students Sue Over Bad Grades; IP Partner ... | Words that can kill | Scoop.it
The law school requires students to maintain a 2.0 grade-point average at the end of their first year, and both plaintiffs were dismissed in September for failing to meet that standard, the complaint said.
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Ricki Weickum's comment, February 15, 2012 12:08 AM
This article is important because it is something that can happen to any teacher. In this article two law students are sueing for $75,000 in compesatory and punitive damages, and reinstatement to TSU law school. These students received low grades in a Contracts II course and failed to meet a 2.0 GPA standard and were dismissed from school. The believe that the allege teacher “arbitrarily issued a low grade, which was not based upon their performance on the examinations” and that the teacher tried to curve them out of the class. As we read in the book courts usually do not support the plaintiffs. They have not found that giving low grades as libelous. An example court case is Smith ex rel. Smith v. Revere Local School District Bd of Educ. In this case the courts agreed that it isn't libelous for students to be given bad grades as long as the school officials haven't acted in bad faith.
Vikki Howard's comment, February 22, 2012 2:08 AM
Right, the courts have been reluctant to jump in this deep lake--imagine what could happen if every student who receives a low grade were able to take the case to court and have a noneducator reverse the grade...yet, students continue to try--one student posted an article where a student's low grade deprived her of valedictorian status---so...you got it...she sued!