Florida student creators of parody Web site will not face criminal charges

The Hernando County, Fla., State’s Attorney’s Office announced Jan. 18 that it will not press criminal charges against the student creators of a Web site that parodied their high school.

Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Catto said charges were dropped when prosecutors found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The site, which was shut down by its server in December, contained stories that portrayed one teacher at Springstead High School in Spring Hill as a pedophile and another as a drunk, as well as doctored photographs of several school officials participating in sex acts.

Although state prosecutors have concluded the investigation, Catto said civil suits could still be filed against any responsible parties.

The U.S. Postal Service is continuing its own investigation into copies of pages from the Web site that were mailed to school administrators along with an offer from the owners to sell the rights to the site for $10,000.

In addition, school officials have said the students could still be punished for violating school rules. However, courts have routinely said that school officials do not have the authority to punish student speech that occurs outside of school.