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Student's suit over Facebook suspension can go forward

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A federal magistrate said this week that a former Florida high school student who was suspended for criticizing her teacher…

A federal magistrate said this week that a former Florida high school student who was suspended for criticizing her teacher on Facebook can proceed with a lawsuit against the principal who suspended her, CNN reported.

The magistrate’s decision to deny the principal’s motion to dismiss the suit could set an important legal precedent for cases involving free speech on social networking sites.

Katherine Evans was a senior at Pembroke Pines Charter High School in 2007 when she created a Facebook page titled "Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever met." Evans removed the page, but was suspended by her principal, Peter Bayer, and was reassigned from her Advanced Placement classes.

Evans then sued Bayer, who asked to have the case dismissed and for immunity from paying damages, The Miami Herald reported.

But Magistrate Judge Barry Garber denied Bayer’s request, writing in his opinion that “Evans’ speech falls under the wide umbrella of protected speech … It was an opinion of a student about a teacher, that was published off-campus, did not cause any disruption on-campus, and was not lewd, vulgar, threatening, or advocating illegal or dangerous behavior.”