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Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

“This is very dangerous ground these kids are treading on. It’s not conducive to the moral tone of the school, and it undermines authority. It is damaging to the reputation of this school administrator.”
"Bruce Campbell
Communications director for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board

I’m glad Facebook wasn’t around when I was in high school; bashing bad teachers the old-fashioned way gets you into a lot less trouble.

Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School students suspended for forming a negative Facebook group about their principal would’ve been better off bitching about the guy vocally. Instead, 19 of them are suspended and had to attend “intimidating” meetings with all the school staff and a police officer present.

Everyone knows high school kids are generally jerks. They’re mean to their teachers, their parents and each other. Add Facebook into the mix and it’s one more way kids can bully all of the above.

But let’s face it, whether the school administration wants to admit it or not, this kind of sentiment " while undesirable " is hardly new or especially out of line, and Facebook is a private networking service. The comments about the principal weren’t on a website accessible to anyone. They were restricted to a group people could choose to join. The fact that the school used comments on a private Internet message board to suspend students is ridiculous and invasive.

The school board’s reaction is equally unimpressive; rather than addressing the problem of why the principal is so widely hated, or why students felt so angry, they created even more animosity between students and staff by issuing suspensions. You’d think professionals who worked with high schoolers would know how to handle them by now.

I think I’ll start a Facebook group about power-tripping principals out of touch with their student body.

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