Miss. school suspends student for calling teacher ‘perverted’ in online journal

MISSISSIPPI — A high school student says school administratorspunished her because she wrote in her off-campus weblog that a teacher was”perverted.”St. Martin High School junior Addi Battista said this weekthat she served three days of in-school isolation this month afteradministrators at the public school in Ocean Springs discovered her off-campusweblog, an online journal. In the weblog, Battista vented about theteacher’s mispronunciation of her last name, mocked his clothing and rejoicedthat she would no longer be in his class. The entry in question was written andpublished online before the winter break.The school administrationlearned about the weblog when another student printed the entry at school andbrought it to the administration’s attention before the winter break, saidNathan Potts, a St. Martin High School senior and friend ofBattista.After school administrators confronted her about the weblog,Battista removed the entry. “It was not fair,” Battista said. “I didn’tmean for [the teacher] to see [the weblog]. I kept apologizing. I even took itoff. I thought it was the end of it.”After the winter break,administrators suspended Battista for “making defamatory remarks” about theteacher. They also suspended the student who reported the weblog for two daysand barred him from using the school’s computers, Potts said. AssistantPrincipal Dina Holland said school policy permits the school to punish studentswhen they bring something on campus that causes a problem. Battistablamed the suspension on the teacher, who she said threatened legal action ifthe school did not discipline her. “Holland said she was scared for mebecause [the teacher] was going to take me to court, so they sent me tothree-day ISI,” Battista said. “It’s really dumb. I found out they [couldn’tlegally suspend me]. I was so mad.”Potts said he did not understand whyBattista had to apologize for her off-campus activities.”I don’t thinkshe should have had to apologize for anything other than having an opinion thatwas too harsh for him,” Potts said. “I don’t see why she shouldn’t be able tosay she’s glad to be getting out of his class because he’s perverted in her owntime in her own live journal on her own computer.” School officials saidthey did nothing wrong. “We don’t discipline students for nothing,” saidLoretta Goff, assistant superintendent for St. Martin Attendance Center.”Anytime a student is disciplined, it is because their actions have been abreech of school policy. It would have nothing to do with their First Amendmentrights or any constitutional freedoms.” Before her suspension, Battistaand her parents considered taking legal action against the school, but after thesuspension, they decided it was too late to do anything. Battista hassince made her weblog private and will transfer to another public schoolfor her senior year. The offended teacher said he did not want tocomment on the situation.