Professor declares Teacher Review site defamatory, files lawsuit against creator

CALIFORNIA — A professor at the City College of San Franciscofiled a lawsuit in October against a former CCSF student over a Web sitethat allows students to post reviews of professors.

“It’s sending lies, death threats and defamation against teachers aroundthe world,” English professor Daniel Curzon-Brown said of the TeacherReview Web site.

Curzon-Brown charged in his suit that the site has caused him emotionaldistress by publishing statements about him and other professors that arefalse and defamatory. He criticized the site for allowing students to postanonymous reviews and for failing to ensure that students who post reviewsof professors have actually taken a class by that professor. He also saidstudents have threatened to post bad reviews of him if he did not givethem the grades they wanted.

Ryan Lathouwers, the creator of Teacher Review, said the site is simplya way to help students get a better education by allowing them to chooseteachers conducive to their learning styles.

Lathouwers, a computer science major, created the site, which he paysfor, while he was a student at the City College of San Francisco. Whenhe transferred to San Francisco State University last year, he added asection where SFSU students could also post reviews of professors.

Lathouwers said he removes any reviews that do not conform to guidelineshe has posted on the site. A message on the site encourages any user whofeels that a posted review is objectionable to e-mail Lathouwers.

Curzon-Brown does not think that is good enough. He said he wants thesite taken down.

“I cannot emphasize enough that the information people are using toevaluate their teachers is tainted,” he said. “It is not reliable information.It’s Internet information.”

Curzon-Brown is also suing the City College of San Francisco for assistingTeacher Review by allowing links to the site from pages on the college’sWeb site.

The college’s chancellor has refused to prohibit student organizationsthat have pages hosted on the college’s server from including links tothe Teacher Review site.

Lathouwers said he has no intention of shutting the site down.

“It helps other students,” he said. “By spreading information aboutwho are the best teachers, you can take the best classes.”