Slandered on Facebook...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by kid_teacher, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. kid_teacher

    kid_teacher Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 29, 2011

    Long story - please someone read and give me your advice.

    A while back a teacher (another grade, another building) asked me one morning if I was the teacher that parent X was talking about on facebook. I told her I didn't know. She asked if it was true that I give spelling words on Monday and test on Wednesday. So...I went home that afternoon and looked up Facebook Mom. (I have facebook, just to stay connected with out-of-state relatives, old friends, etc. Mine is very tame and set with the highest privacy settings.) Apparently Facebook Mom doesn't have any privacy settings on because I'm not her friend, but I could see all of her stuff.

    From the first week of school, she has bad-mouthed me on facebook. She has never called my name, but she has said the name of the school and the grade. There are only 4 of us on my grade level and I am one of only two language arts teachers. This is a very small town (less than 1000 people in the city limits) so its not very hard for anyone to figure out who she is talking about.

    The things that she has posted about me are not true. (I do give spelling lists on Mondays, but I give the test the NEXT Wednesday - so he has 9 days to study, not 2. But she specificially said that I give them on Monday and the test on Wednesday. Several people responded to her to "get her," "take her to the school board," "what kind of teachers do we have nowdays," etc.

    She also claimed that one day he came home and told her that I said he took too long in the bathroom. (I caught him playing. He did take too long and I went to check on him and he was playing in the sink.)

    This child came to my grade two grade levels behind. (That's a whole other story that is being addressed with my principal!) I have told facebook mom all year that I'm very concerned about his reading. (I teach 3rd.) He was on a reading level that a first grader should be on at Christmas of first grade when he came to me. DIBELS and Discovery Ed have both consistently backed up my observations. We have 92 children in our grade. His score is the second from the bottom - number 91. So, yes, I'm very concerned!
    When report cards went out at christmas, he had all C's. (74 and below is an F.) He had a 75 in reading. She put on facebook "Teacher thinks my child is failing. He had all C's! I'm one proud mom! She ain't gonna fail my child when he has a C!" Again, she got about 20 responses urging her to "get me."

    Child is not a bad child. Not a discipline problem. BUT he doesn't pay attention, wants to talk, would rather do anything than schoolwork. I'm trying to push him because he is sitting on the fence between passing and failing. I'm not ever mean, but I do push him.

    So, one day this week she went to my principal. Told her that he comes home every day crying. Said that I make him stay in for all of recess every single day to punish him because he can't read. (NOTHING could be further from the truth! I have NEVER done that.) Said that everytime I see her I am telling her my concerns. (I thought I was supposed to??) Prince said she stayed for an hour.

    Now, she once again is on facebook saying that I mistreat her son and it will stop. That she had a meeting and she will have another one Monday. (We are all sitting down Monday to talk.) She called me "that stupid b----."

    Is this libel? Just any words of advice that anyone can give me would be great.

    Thanks!!
     
  2.  
  3. Teacher_Lady

    Teacher_Lady Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 29, 2011

    I am not sure what legal action, if any, you can take, but I would print out everything that she has posted about you and let your principal know. I hate that we as teachers are forbidden to discuss anything about students and parents, but they are free to post whatever they wish about us. It is one huge double standard.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    3,506
    Likes Received:
    12

    Jan 29, 2011

    I don't know if you have any legal recourse here, but I agree with TeacherLady. Get a screen shot of it all, print it out, and take it to your principal. Have it on hand for any meetings you go to with her.

    :hugs:
     
  5. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,815
    Likes Received:
    53

    Jan 29, 2011

    I love courtroom shows...so I am not a lawyer, but I watch a lot of judges. Judge Mathis ruled def. of character against a woman when she bad mouthed a photographer. He printed all of her facebook wall and showed it to the judge. I say print it before she gets wind that you can see it. I also say call your union, if you have one. I think you have a case if you can prove her statements as false.
     
  6. DaveG

    DaveG Companion

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2010
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 29, 2011

    I agree with what everyone says here.

    In addition, as you have already been doing, document, document, document! Use every progress monitoring tool available and record anything and everything data-wise relating to the child in school, specifically reading. The facts don't lie.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jan 29, 2011

    Yes—copy, save, and print! This whole thing saddens me...it's just pathetic. :(
     
  8. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 29, 2011

    I started to say that posting lies about your actions or attitude as a teacher and the classroom situations and/or environment are not libel (you can't force people to NOT lie about you). However, libel means you can show your reputation or character has been damaged by the words/comments written and it sounds like this situation may be right on the fence, since others can easily guess who she is talking about even though she doesn't mention you by name.

    Calling you a b**** on FB is definitely libel.

    While you may not be able to stop her from posting these comments, you absolutely can and SHOULD print them out and bring them to the meeting on Monday so they can be addressed face-to-face. It will be interesting to see how brave and bold FB Mom is when these are laid on the table for everyone to see and you have the opportunity to explain the circumstances to your principal. :p

    FB Mom will end up looking like the
     
  9. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    4,896
    Likes Received:
    5

    Jan 29, 2011

    Take a screen shot of her FB pages, save a copy and give a copy to the principal. Ask the principal not to mention FB to the mother until after the Monday meeting. Is the principal sitting in on the meeting? Maybe if she says some "untruths" about what other people have said during the meeting than the principal might take it more seriously. Obviously after she is called out on her FB comments, she will most likely make it private and keep saying what she is saying.

    Even though she is telling lies about you, it is nice to be aware of what she is thinking and you are now able to be one step ahead of her whenever she wants to talk you;)...
     
  10. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,815
    Likes Received:
    53

    Jan 29, 2011

    Here is what I learned:

    Defamation is language that injures the good name or reputation of another person.

    If the statements complained about are designed to be read, its libel. Slander involves the spoken word. Unless it's on TV or radio, then it goes back to the libel category.

    Defamatory language must tend to lower the victim in the esteem of any substantial and respectable group, even though it can be a small minority. The person complaining cannot rely on an artificial, unreasonable or tortured interpretation of what was said. It can't be something only "supersensitive persons" would consider slanderous.

    A statement is not actionable if it is substantially true. Defamation can not be claimed where there the speaker has some privilege. For example, statements made in the course of litigation are protected. Statements of fact are actionable, expressions of opinion are not.

    There are two types of slander.

    ■Under slander per se, no proof of damages is required, where the spoken words impute crime, loathsome disease, relate to a person's business or profession or go to such other basic characteristics.


    •In other instances, or slander per quod, then money damages must be proved.


    Defamation law is complex. Volumes have been written. The reason that defamation presents problems for the courts is that they must balance two basic rights. One is our right to freedom of speech. The other is the individual's right to protection against harm to reputation.

    For example, where the person complaining that they've been defamed is a public figure, then they must prove that the harmful statements were made with "knowledge of falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth." That means that people including politicians, actors and others in the public eye can not recover for defamation unless they prove that defamatory statements published against them were intentional or wantonly reckless.
     
  11. hzminda

    hzminda Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 29, 2011

    Sounds like slander to me; like everyone else said print the facebook conversations and document everything said.

    M.H.
     
  12. sweetlatina23

    sweetlatina23 Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 29, 2011

    I agree with everyone. I don't know if it would make a difference, but you should mention that other students/teacher/ or even parents have come up to you and brough this to your attention. The last thing you need is for her to turn around and start saying "she is stalking me and my family..she doesn't leave us alone...I don't feel safe anymore...I have no privacy..." etc. I have seen messages that people respond to and I know there are always two sides to a story. However, they are her family and friends and are trying to console her. Don't take it too personal, trust me I am super sensitive I know its hard not to. Exactly how you presented this to us, present your concerns to her. I wouldn't bring up FB until the end. Good luck!
     
  13. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Messages:
    3,591
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jan 29, 2011

    You might benefit from reading "What color is your Parachute." I read it years ago, but still remember a quote. You will know you are doing your job if you get s**t in your face, or something like that. For some people, it takes a lot more to make them realize that they have a problem, and it comes down to you shaking them up to come around. So, good for you, you have her attention.
     
  14. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    2,233
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 29, 2011

    I once told a parent to stop speaking out in the community about her perceptions of me because it was slanderous.

    After a lot of sputtering, I repeated my comment and request. She understood that it was a warning from me that I would pursue legal action if she continued.

    I have no idea if it would have worked, but the parent stopped.
     
  15. wrice

    wrice Habitué

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 29, 2011

    I believe if the parent does not mention you by name it cannot be legally construed as libel.

    But I agree with Shouldbeasleep, that this parent is just flapping her mouth and once confronted (by your principal...) she should stop.
     
  16. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,069
    Likes Received:
    233

    Jan 29, 2011

    I want to add a couple of points.

    First, I don't think her not mentioning you by name necessarily bars you from legal action or keeps it from being libel. If you're readily identifiable by those in the community based on what she's posted -- which is what's relevant when determining if your reputation has been damaged -- it could be libel.

    Second, calling someone a b**** is NOT libel. It's a statement of opinion. Libel needs to be a statement of fact (not actual fact, obviously -- it needs to be a falsehood). The whole point of libel law is to prevent people from lying about you, not to prevent people from insulting you.

    False statements of your actions in the classroom could potentially be libel if they were defamatory. I'm really not sure anything here qualifies, because frankly it all looks pretty mild and it might be hard to establish that it damages your reputation.

    Still, the advice of most here -- save the pages and show them to your principal -- are good. If she eventually goes further, even if they're not actionable by themselves they could be important in establishing intent.
     
  17. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 30, 2011

    Facebook is a public domain and anything posted there is considered public knowledge. Several court cases have determined this. If the parent has not set her privacy controls in place to limit who can view her page, it can be inferred she meant for everyone (or anyone) to see her comments - including the teacher in question.
     
  18. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 30, 2011

    I agree. As long as you can show you could be readily identified by those reading FB Mom's comments, you have a chance of proving libel.

    You're right. My bad. I was thinking more about "damage to reputation" and forgot insults aren't usually included in that since they are considered opinion rather than fact. Thanks for the correction. :thumb:
     
  19. Starista

    Starista Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Messages:
    671
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 30, 2011

    :yeahthat:
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. catnfiddle,
  2. rpan
Total: 276 (members: 5, guests: 244, robots: 27)
test