Parents in North Syracuse wonder how far a school district can go in punishing a student for something they do on the Internet. It's a debate thats blowing up after dozens of students got in trouble for a Facebook page.
Of all the students from the Roxboro Road Middle School disciplined for putting comments about one of their teachers on a Facebook group, only one of their parents came to a school board meeting Monday Night to tell board members he's not happy about it. "The way it was done when I got advised, I got a phone call and this was already a done deal, this is what happened and this is the punishment," says Wayne Rochette.
Wayne Rochette's daughter is in seventh grade. She was given three days of detention along with 33 other students, for joining the online group. School officials say the comments on the web page were libelous and sexual. While board members didn't bring up the issue at the meeting, North Syracuse Superintendent Jerome Melvin defends the punishment, which some call an invasion of free speech. Melvin says, "What we found very important here was on the invitation itself it spelled out what the content was so when they went in there, they full knew what they were going into."
Rochette disagrees, saying, "If kids don't pay attention to what they read and just click on their friends face: 'Sure', Click. Maybe she didn't read it, I'm not sure. But is it a punishable crime for what they did outside their jurisdiction? That's the question."
And he hopes to have that answered when the district brings parents together in a few weeks to discuss how to handle problems like this in the future. "I'm not sure what I'd like to see the school board do. I'm not sure I'd like to see them do anything. It doesn't seem like its in their jurisdiction," says Rochette.
Rochette hasn't made his daughter attend the three detentions, which began last Thursday and end Tuesday afternoon.
The district has removed the online group from Facebook.
Click here to watch an Associated Press video report about this Facebook incident.