School punishes teacher for student-produced story

MICHIGAN– A quick scan throughprofiles on reveals some high school students baring skin andproudly displaying alcohol bottles. But broadcasting such profiles at school aspart of a student-produced news segment about the dangers of Myspace caused ajournalism teacher to get reprimanded.

Devon Fralick, a broadcastteacher at Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores, Mich., was put on paidleave for more than a week last month after an eight-minute MySpace segmentaired on Feb. 28 on the high school’s in-house TV network. The piece wascreated by students Neil Willougby and Scott Sobanski to warn students of theperceived dangers of posting personal information on networking Websites.

MySpace is a social networking site that allows people to postpersonal profiles with photos, share music and videos and maintain onlinejournals.

Fralick is back at school, but declined to comment for thisstory. Her union representative, Jane Cassady, said they are not ready to putthe ordeal behind them.

”We’re not finished in dealingwith the administration on this,” Cassady said. ”But the mostimportant thing is she’s back in the classroom.”

Cassadywould not comment on whether she thought Fralick’s punishment was toosevere.

The segment featured profiles of students drinking alcohol,posing provocatively or partially nude and in one case, a student was kissing avodka bottle, according to an article in the Detroit FreePress.

Willougby, one of the students who worked on thesegment, told the Free Press that facesand body parts were distorted in the presentation to protect the identity ofstudents.

”The point of the presentation was to show that kidsare being irresponsible when posting their profiles,” Willoughby told theFree Press.

Fralick toldWilloughby she thought the segment was racy but that maybe that is what wasneeded to hit home with teenagers, the regional paperreported.

Lakeview Public Schools Superintendent Sandra Feeley Myrandapologized to students and staff in a written statement she issued the day afterthe segment aired. Attempts to contact Feeley Myrand were unsuccessful.

In a March 2 press release, Assistant Superintendent Karl Paulsonsaid, ”Addressing the danger of was an important part of thispiece; unfortunately, the selection of photographs, language and music withinthe piece raised questions and concerns by both students andparents.”

Paulson also said in the release that Fralick wasplaced on a paid leave of absence as ”a matter of legal protection forboth her and the district.”

Cassady declined to say whatspecific action, if any, Fralick would take against the district. Fralick hastaught at Lakeview for nineyears.