Monday, June 25, 2007

Student Denied Education Degree Over MySpace Pix

Think the Nanny State is harmless?

Think again.

Stacy Snyder, a twenty-seven y/0 senior at Millersville College in PA was denied the education degree her grades and test scores earned, the day before her scheduled graduation for “unprofessional conduct.”

The “unprofessional conduct” in question was a picture posted on her MySpace Account with Ms. Snyder wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, captioned “Drunken pirate.”

Millersville College awarded her an English degree instead.
Instructors who’d previously evaluated “outstanding,” now called her “incompetent.”

Stacy Snyder had to file a federal lawsuit, alleging that by denying Snyder her degree without a hearing regarding the decision, Millersville administrators violated Snyder's constitutional right to due process. Snyder's suit requested her education degree, her teaching certificate, and $75,000 in compensatory damages as relief. It appears to have worked: Federal district court documents filed last Tuesday indicate an out-of-court settlement between the parties is imminent.

Sadly, Stacy Snyder's story isn’t at all that uncommon. Increasingly, university administrators are monitoring student speech and activity online.

As a lawyer for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote, “While students may think their or posts are private, they aren't. Saying the wrong thing online - even if it’s legal or even constitutionally protected - can get you in a world of trouble.”

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