An Example of the Public/Private Boundary Dissolving…

MySpace photo prevents teacher certification, lawsuit follows

May 7th, 2007

related headlines for students and educational organizations continue,
this time the headline concerns a 27 year old college student seeking
teacher certification. The headline from May 6th reads, “Woman denied degree over photo, sues university.”
According to the accompanying CNN video, the student was serving as a
student teacher when her cooperating teacher saw a captioned photo on
her MySpace account referring to herself as a “drunken
pirate.” She was banned from returning to the school to complete
her student teaching, and upon graduation her “education
degree” was changed to an “English degree.”

It will be interesting to follow this case and see what the judge
rules. It seems dishonest and questionable for the university to award
an English degree instead of an education degree to this student, if
indeed she fulfilled all the requirements for an education degree. I am
not sure what the standard for reasonable actions on the part of the
university are in this case, however. It seems the student should have
some due process rights, and apparently she did appeal the decision to
the university unsuccessfully, but I am interested to know what the
college’s reasonable range of actions are in denying someone
teacher certification based on a MySpace photo are.

According to this story, the only thing which suggested this student
engaged in inappropriate behavior was a photo caption. The photo itself
did not show the student drinking alcohol. Did the student have a
previous police record of public intoxication convictions? The student
is 27 years old, so is above the legal drinking age…

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