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Student in Court Over Suspension For YouTube Video 397

kozmonaut writes "A model student is in court this week over 40-day suspension for posting a mocking in-class video to YouTube of 'Mongzilla', a high school english teacher. The student is arguing he had First Amendment rights to publish the video, though it was filmed without permission in the classroom. 'Kent School District lawyer Charles Lind says the suspension had nothing to do with online criticism of the teacher. Rather, it was punishment for the disruption created by the students secreting a video camera into Joyce Mong's class and dancing in a mocking, disrespectful manner while her back was turned. "It's quite clear that the district is talking about conduct in the classroom and not the videotape," Lind said.'"
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Student in Court Over Suspension For YouTube Video

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  • by aicrules ( 819392 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:46AM (#19235403)
    What online rights is this about? Your right to post videos on the internet without being held accountable for what they contain?
    • Libel law takes away our freedom of besmirching!
    • Your right to express your dissent with a certain person in an artistic way?
      • Artistic? (Score:3, Informative)

        by benhocking ( 724439 )
        You obviously haven't watched the video. It shows him insulting the teacher in class by waving his hand at her as if she smells, holding up fingers behind her head, doing a lewd dance behind her - all in a row. It's a self-incriminating video, giving the school the evidence it needs to suspend him. That said, a 40-day suspension is obviously over the top.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          YES. There is zero excuse for this. I would suspend the child for this behaviour, and add extra time for filming it. This has nothing to do with YRO or anyone else's. It's to do with the rights of the teacher. Why are slashdotters (and society in general) so accepting of this kind of behaviour? I wouldn't expect anyone to work under those conditions. The school I went to (not long ago) would have done something similar.
          • Re:Artistic? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by CFTM ( 513264 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:13AM (#19237403)
            Exactly, there is no free speech issue here; he had every right to make and publish the film and no one has stopped that but there are consequences for our actions. All in all this should be a very good lesson for him.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ph4s3 ( 634087 )
              Are you sure he had the right to make/publish anything? Aren't film makers required to get a release of some sort from their subjects?

              There are laws about recording conversations so that all involved parties are aware that they are being recorded. Do such laws pertain to video?
              • Re:Artistic? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @12:39PM (#19239391) Homepage

                We can not legislate all aspects of human behavior. It simply does not work.

                American society has devolved to "if I can get away with it, I can do it" - many thanks to the prevailing governing administration for promoting this point during the final years of our society. "Required" is now only meaningful in the face of lawsuits to prevent or punish. Healthy societies have both laws AND mores that shape people's behaviors. In this case simple mores for treating people with respect and decency would have stopped this kid, had their parents had the time or understanding to raise their child correctly.

                Recording other people is a very dicey issue. Typically recording people in public areas is OK without permission, although recording ocnversations when privacy is reasonably expected is not. Laws vary in different states. I have an interst in this, though I'm not an expert or a lawyer.

                In this case, they are in a public institution, and although it was not a public space, there is really no expectation of privacy. Standing up in front of a class of people is exactly the kind of step that can remove the "expectation of privacy".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      That's true. Forty days is very excessive, though. I seriously doubt this school district has EVER suspended anyone this long for merely dancing behind a teacher's back or using a videocamera in class. The fact that it was posted on Youtube is clearly the impetus behind such a long suspension. Such a suspension basically puts the student a full semester behind his classmates and will likely lead to either summerschool (which could cost $) or a delayed graduation (which could make college admissions a proble
      • Exactly, this is a school board that's scared of the intarwebs, rather than leveling discipline.
      • by Tekzel ( 593039 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:19AM (#19236141)
        Sometimes you just have to make an example of someone, and when you do you go for the harshest penalty you can for effect. Sucks to be them, but they shouldn't have done it. Maybe this will save some other little jackasses some problems. I hope they lose the case and the suspension stays in place. There is little enough order in school these days since educators have no way to enforce rules other than kicking the little shits out. Their parents certainly can't be bothered to teach them the small detail that school is a place to learn and not a social gathering hall.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Their parents certainly can't be bothered to teach them the small detail that school is a place to learn and not a social gathering hall.

          In a way, you're right. But, they aren't there to learn the three R's. They are there to be acclimatized to the working world where they obey orders, schedule their time around the bell, and become dependent on their "superiors".
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Belial6 ( 794905 )
            That's what people don't get. When people think of 'home-schooled' children, they don't think of kids who can't read or write. They MAY think of some religious nut, but the expectation is that they are very well educated. When my son started reading at 2, I realized that he would need to be home schooled. Every single person that has tried to convince me that I should send him to public school has argued that he should go to learn to socialize. Not one has argued that a public school is a great way to
        • by Anonymous Cowpat ( 788193 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:43AM (#19236711) Journal
          Incorrect. Play again. The same circumstances warrant the same punishment. 'making an example' out of the first person to do it and then lightening off all the subsequent offenders (or hitting the 10th person particularly hard to show that 'enough is enough', or whatever) is the definition of arbitrary punishment and it's bad bad bad. Punishing one person harshly and everyone else lightly is no better than selective enforcement and I'd be interested to see someone argue in favour of deliberate selective enforcement.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

          Sometimes you just have to make an example of someone

          If the next cop who pulled you over for speeding dragged you off to jail for several days, I'm sure you would happily take "Sorry, buddy, had to make an example for other speeders" as an excuse.

    • "What online rights is this about? Your right to post videos on the internet without being held accountable for what they contain?"

      I'd normally agree, but 40 days?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by hkgroove ( 791170 )
        Seriously. I broke into my school's voice mail system in 8th grade (teachers would leave homework assignments on them - it was called classroom snapshot) and I got 5 days suspension.

        It was late May and absolutely gorgeous outside, so I sat at the pool all day and called the voice mail to get my daily assignments.
  • sounds like (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Cowpat ( 788193 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:46AM (#19235407) Journal
    the school district is desperately backpeddling to find a good reason why they should be able to sue over a youtube clip. Even IF their given reason for the suspension is legitimate (which it isn't) 40 days is utterly disproportionate. 40 days is 8 school weeks which is over half a term. Even a ONE DAY suspension for getting up and dancing behind the teacher's back is disproportionate.
    • Exactly. Lunchtime detention or after school detention would be appropriate. Not expelling. Unfortunately it criticized a teacher so the punishment will be disproportionate.
      • Exactly. Lunchtime detention or after school detention would be appropriate. Not expelling. Unfortunately it criticized a teacher so the punishment will be disproportionate.

        That a stipulation of the current NEA contracts, isn't it?
    • Well, the kid claims that he didn't produce the video, so the only way they would know he was connected is if he is IN the video. If he's IN the video, he's the one making fun of the teacher and dancing around like a dumbass. So yes, he should be punished. 40 days is a bit extreme in my opinion, but it's hardly a free speech issue if my assumptions are correct.

      If he's not in the video, and he's just the one that put it on youtube, the school principal needs to be smacked in the face by the judge.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by niconorsk ( 787297 )
      First of all, its the student suing the school to get the suspension lifted. As far as I can tell, the school hasn't even tried to get the video pulled. I mean, its in the article itself, after all. While I agree with you that the punishment doesn't fit the crime, that still doesn't mean that a 1st amendment defense should hold in this case.
    • Indeed.

      "It's quite clear that the district is talking about conduct in the classroom and not the videotape," Lind said.

      Remember when obvious liars would get boo'd and pelted with tomatoes?

      Yeah, me neither, but it's a pleasant thought. But at least we can hope that karma catches up with this Lind creature some day, in the form of self-hatred or perhaps a falling piano.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evil_aar0n ( 1001515 )
      Recently, we had a student who was busted for being drunk at the prom. His punishment, as determined by established policy, was three days suspension. There's no way, even if this Seattle kid was involved in the filming or production, or was dancing stark naked with the teacher in front of the class, that this is worth 40 days.

      Another question the kid should ask is: what is the policy? If they have a policy for suspension, what does it say in this case? Is disruption of class typically a 40 day penalty?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      the school district is desperately backpeddling to find a good reason why they should be able to sue over a youtube clip.

      If you aren't going to read the article, at least read the summary. He's suing the school for suspending him. They aren't suing him.

      Even a ONE DAY suspension for getting up and dancing behind the teacher's back is disproportionate.

      This appears to be intentional humiliation of a teacher. That's got serious repercussions; who'd want to go to work where they are routinely hu

      • In the student's defense, would you want to work with someone who only showered once a week? (opening part of the video)
    • Even a ONE DAY suspension for getting up and dancing behind the teacher's back is disproportionate. I agree one day for THAT would not be appropriate. Filming and the putting it on the net is something else. He planned a disruption and ridicule of his class. I don't care he did it, but getting punished is not a violation of his rights.
      • so it ceases to be disproportionate punishment if he THEN exercises his first ammendment right to post it on youtube? How can you compound an 'illegal' act by commiting a further 'legal' act?
        Isn't dancing for the purposes of humiliating the teacher free expression anyway?
    • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) *
      Given the state of public schools today I think the fact that we are taken back by a 40 day suspension is saying something. I know quite a few college professors who are sickened by the type of students that are coming out of high school with no sense of accountability. They bitch about unfair grades, and are just insulted when you try to punish them for plagiarism. Why this article calls this a "model student" is beyond me, there is a difference between voicing your opinion and being down right insubor
      • Free speech with consequences isn't free speech. Ref: shouting 'fire' in a theatre. (person shouting 'fire' gets consequences, we accept that in this situation person did not have free speech)
        You assume in calling something insubbordinate that a school pupil is subbordinate to a teacher. I'm not sure how you come to this conclusion, but it's wrong. Teachers teach and maintain enough control as necessary to enable the former. This does not make the children their subbordinates. Do teachers issue orders or i
  • only a lawyer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skeletor935 ( 790212 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:49AM (#19235457) Journal
    would consider a less than B average in high school as "model student" material. from tfa [quote] Cohen said her client has "no disciplinary record at school, and he is the model student" with a 2.97 grade-point average. [/quote]
    • Who really cares about his high school GPA? Just because it isn't very high (it's not much lower than mine was when I graduated, though) doesn't mean that he isn't a good student.

      When I graduated high school (a year ago), I had a 3.0 GPA. I was the only student in the entire school who took every advanced course. I also had a 33 ACT score (took it twice... my ACT score from my sophomore year was a 31). So yeah, my GPA was a 3.0... but I don't think anyone there considered me a bad student. I just didn't lik

  • Lord of the Flies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 )
    This is what happens when you socialize young people in a setting where adult presence and guidance is nearly non-existent. You can't blame the students because their elders created an environment that is a more civilized version of Lord of the Flies.
  • by iknownuttin ( 1099999 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:50AM (#19235481)
    The teacher was in frame and the video was published on the internet. Where's the model's release? This isn't a news item so it's arguably warranted.

    Try getting a man on the street photo published sometime, you'll see.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pla ( 258480 )
      The teacher was in frame and the video was published on the internet. Where's the model's release?

      Considering the noncommercial nature of this, what would the "model" sue for? Even if you spun this into some sort of defamation issue, the student, not the teacher, makes a fool of himself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Where's the model's release?

      The last time I checked, aren't releases required for commercial purposes? For personal, non-commercial uses, there is no release required. Newspapers get releases because they are a business; however, many times in an event, a release can't be obtained and may not be neccessary. Did the person who taped the Rodney King beating get Mr. King's and the officers' releases? Did the news outlets who obtained the video do the same? No.

    • "Model" release, haha
  • by baboonlogic ( 989195 ) <anshul@ba b o o n l o g> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:50AM (#19235497) Homepage
    Mongzilla [] is still up on Youtube.
    • by *weasel ( 174362 )
      'imagine the worse smell'
      'and your close to the smell of her class'

      Screw model student (he's clearly a misfit), how the hell does this kid have a B average?

      as for the rest of it... bunny ears, carrying a box of tissue across the room, 'smelly' pantomime and a few 'Tobey thrusts' is 40 days-worth of disruption? I don't get it.
      Oh, and he 'secreted in a video camera'... that appears to be a common camera phone.

      Even if he is a jackass, 40 days is far, far too much for what he actually did.
  • Right... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Adam Zweimiller ( 710977 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:52AM (#19235525) Homepage
    This is totally different than the students who videotaped their teacher being a complete asshole in class and posted it. They were punished for embarrassing the teacher and no other reason. If they were acting like the asshats (in class) that the article describes, then they deserved to be smacked. That said, 40 days is DAMN ridiculous. Students do not need to be bringing cameras to school in order to record themselves acting the fool, but suspending them for 8 weeks is nonsense. Stop with the knee-jerk reactions because kids are being kids. Suspend them for a day or two and hope they learn. Sheesh.
    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Yea, and to all the other kids in the room who can't learn because of a few asshats. Well to bad for them eh.

      School should be rasing kids (Young adults). They are there to teach. If the student doesn't want to learn he/she has no right to stay and be disruptive.

      however 40 days does seem like a long time. I bet there is more to the story. From both sides.
    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Should not be raising kids...

      sorry my bad
  • A 40 day suspension for making fun of a teacher? Christ almighty. Am I totally out of touch with current school policies? In my day kids got one week suspensions for smoking pot and getting in to fights.
  • ...if they just called him into the dean's room and gave him a quite "personal" lecture, he would maybe simply have removed it and nobody would've ever heard of that video, safe a few of his friends who already saw it.

    Now, the whole world will watch it and, to add injury to insult, think the school is trying to throttle free speech.
  • It's okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thrace ( 1096621 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:53AM (#19235561)
    All kids involved in the video taping the teacher are morons. I remember when it was common sense not to do something so blatantly stupid and self-incriminating while in school. What ever happened to being able to sit for 45 minutes without acting like a jackass?
    • Lets see, low pay, undisciplined students, violence and obscenities in urban schools, teaching for standardized tests, low budgets, and now humiliation via the internet. Teaching sure looks like a great job!
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:53AM (#19235563) Journal
    Why is the summary making it a point to say that that student was a model student? Do these model students have more rights than nerdy students, ugly students, non-bulumic students and fluncking students?
    • No, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by raehl ( 609729 )
      We're talking about a 40-day suspension. If the student had previous 10, 20 and 30 day suspensions for selling drugs to kindergarten students or something, then maybe a 40 day suspension would be more reasonable.

      But if a student has never been disciplined before, jumping straight to a 40-day suspension for a first offense that is neither illegal nor dangerous seems a tad unreasonable.

      So no, model students don't have more rights than non-model students, but model students probably deserve lighter punishment
    • ...non-bulumic students and fluncking students?

      So can we assume you're one of the FLUNKING students?
  • by PHAEDRU5 ( 213667 ) <instascreed@gma i l . c om> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:53AM (#19235567) Homepage
    Kid insults teacher, teacher whacks kid. End of discussion. You know. Like in the non-medication solution to ADD [] on South Park.

    Dr. Shay: (on video) Hello, I'm Dr. Richard Shay, here to tell you about my exciting new drug-free treatment for children with Attention Deficit Disorder. (Several hyper and rambling children) This treatment is fast and effective and it doesn't use harmful drugs. Watch closely as I apply treatment to the first child. (SMACK) SIT DOWN AND STUDY! If you would like more information on my bold new treatments, please send away for this free brochure entitled: 'You can either calm down, or I can pop you in the mouth again.'
    But then, what would all the lawyers do?
  • Huh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mekane8 ( 729358 )
    According to the article, all the kid did was post links to the video. I can understand suspending the kids who were causing trouble in the room, but also suspending people for just posting links (for the same amount of time, anyway) seems a little over the top.

    Of course, as a teacher, if you're so oblivious of what's going on in your classroom that a kid can walk around behind you and give you bunny ears and make rude gestures, then this kind of thing is no surprise. I say that as a high school teacher, by
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kantara ( 246758 )
      The students who were posting links would probably come under continued harrassment.
  • OK I can accept that they are just use the video as evidence of the wrong doing. I would like to see them justify 40 days suspension or even suspension since they did not seem to even notice until it was posted. One day in school tops, 40 days is outrageous. If the school cant deal with an upset student population then they do not know how to teach.

    FYI my wife is a teacher I have worked around school systems for the last 10 years, no I'm not a school administrator.
  • to put someone on TV?(unless the filming was incidental, ie you were part of a crowd they were filming). At the very least, can't someone force a television station to not air a piece of footage if they do not sign a waiver? Does this also apply to youtube?
    • IANAL

      Sure, but that would have absolutely nothing to do with the school. The teacher him/her self would have to pursue legal action against the child(ren) who were involved.

      From my limited understanding (I didn't read TFA), the school suspended him for 40 days for in-class misconduct and he's the one pursuing legal action against the school to get the suspension lifted, or at least reduced.

      FWIW, IMO 40 days is ridiculously excessive unless the kid has a long history full of lesser suspensions for related in
  • This type of teacher-mockery should stay in the classroom (and occasionally in the principal's office) where it belongs. In my day there was no YouTube. I remember having to write an apology for my disruptive conduct. I wrote it out in a scroll, and unfurled it on bended knee to the offended teacher while my friend, as my squire, made tooting "hear ye" noises with her hands. I wanted the scroll back, but the teacher was amused enough that he wanted to keep it.
  • RTFA, damn it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lurker2288 ( 995635 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:02AM (#19235723)
    If you read the article, it isn't even clear at this point that the kid who's being suspended was involved in producing the video, either by acting up in the classroom or by assisting in filming it. It sounds like all he did was post a link to it on his Myspace page, and the school is busting him because they want him to rat out the people who DID make it.
    • I read the artical and it sounded more to me like he was the one dancing around in the background making jestures. It says in the artical that his lawyer is saying he didn't produce the video. But that shouldn't matter as the schools stance is that he was acting in appropriatly in class and should be suspended for that. The problem is that he was given a 40 day suspension which is a little excessive, if its in court I hope it gets taken down to 5 days at the max, but at least 1 or 2 days. While the whol
  • Couldn't the student claim it's a parody and eliminate any chance of a case against said student?
  • 1) Quick, get JT, this behavior was causes by that candy bar advertisement
    2) People are still using MySpace???? WTF
    3) If someone posts links to a video that you don't like, find out who made the film and posted it to the public forums.
    4) if you want to suspend all people who post links to it, I suggest that the entire population of that school start posting links now. Let them suspend the entire school population for 40 days.

    5) Have you seen that video... OMG, they have a right to complain IMO. There is eno
  • ... what you think it means

    "A model student... secreting a video camera into Joyce Mong's class and dancing in a mocking, disrespectful manner while her back was turned."

    Recording someone without their knowledge or consent while also disrupting their teaching efforts in order to mock them isn't what I would call "model behavior." Usually that term is awarded based solely on GPA; it seems like it's more a matter of "smart enough not to get caught (until now)" rather than "acts in a respectable manner."

    A t
  • I think I would have assigned a 50 page single space typed essay to the entire class, to be submitted in 3 week's time on the values of a good education or something along the lines of the course's subject.[1]

    But really, students poking fun of a teacher has been around since day one. Teachers doling out the punishment to fit the crime has been around since day two- which brings me to the 2nd point- 40 days really is too long. A week, perhaps, but not 40 days.

    [1] Before everyone gets their underwear in a k
  • Hmm. They suspended a student for 40 days for disrupting class, in an incident that wasn't even noticed by anyone in authority until it was posted on YouTube and later reported on the news. But that's not all. The kicker? The suspended student wasn't even there!

    Suspension? Detention? Expulsion? Yeah, maybe for the administrators involved. For the student? Nada.

    The judge, of course, accepted the school district's sophistry and let the suspension stand. []
  • by Ace905 ( 163071 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:38AM (#19236567) Homepage
    The school should be embarrased to have her working there. The video points out she's unhygienic, the classroom looks disgusting, nobody respects her. That's just what I got in the first 60 seconds.

    The school is alleging the video disrupted class - so that's why the student was suspended. So how disrupted was the class that they had to find the video on YouTube to know about it? Did the teacher not mention how 'disrupted' her class was? Ok then fire her.

    Allowing this to go on is a disgusting example of a school board as a whole.

    Bride of Mongzilla? []
  • Did it take anyone else a while to realize that Monzilla was a play off of Godzilla, not Mozilla?
  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:01AM (#19237123) Homepage Journal
    You know, if I was a teacher and my name was "Mong", I would change my damn name.

    Similarly, do not go into teaching under your original name if your name is "Tard", "Spaz" or "Ho".

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.