DOCUMENT: Internet, K-12

Teen MySpace Hoaxer's Lament

Claim: Ohio boy's speech rights violated by middle school expulsion

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Teen MySpace Hoaxer's Lament

FEBRUARY 21--The parents of an Ohio boy who was expelled this month for creating a phony MySpace profile that described his middle school's principal as a child molester have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the 13-year-old's free speech rights have been violated by education officials.

Toader and Marianna Osan claim that their son (who is identified only by his initials in U.S. District Court filings) was improperly booted from the eighth grade at Hillside Middle School in Parma after educators learned of the boy's creation of a MySpace page for principal Jeff Cook. The MySpace profile, which was headlined 'Your Princeypal,' did not carry Cook's name, but it included his photo and identified him as the Hillside Middle School principal.

The since-removed profile, an excerpt of which you'll find here, listed Cook's general interests as 'giving students anal' and 'jacking off in my office,' and named his heroes as Michael Jackson, Adolph Hitler, and Saddam Hussein.

For his vulgar online handiwork, 'R.O.' was first suspended, and then, on February 7, was informed that he was being expelled (for 'malicious harassment') until June 10, effectively the end of the school year, according to a February 20 court filing. His parents argue that students 'disrespecting teachers outside of school is an age-old tradition, and one from which teachers neither need nor deserve protection...It would be naive to think that even the most popular principal is not the subject of student ridicule and parody.'

The Osans are seeking their son's immediate return to school and a judicial order protecting his off-campus speech, which previously included the observation that Cook had an affinity for the Purple Penetrator, a sex toy. (6 pages)