A federal judge in Florida has ruled that a student’s ranting about her high school teacher on a Facebook page is protected by the First Amendment, The Miami Herald reports.

Katherine “Katie” Evans, a 17-year old student at Pembroke Pines Charter Schools, was suspended in 2007 for three days and bumped from Advanced Placement classes after setting up a Facebook page for three days to complain about “the worst teacher I’ve ever met,” the newspaper says.

Evans later sued the principal, charging that the punishment was unwarranted and could hurt her academically and in her career, the Herald says.

In his ruling Friday, Magistrate Judge Barry Garber declined the principal’s request to dismiss the suit and ruled that he could be forced to pay damages if Evans, who is now a journalism student at the University of Florida, prevails.

Garber ruled that Evans’ rant “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,” he ruled.

(Posted by Doug Stanglin)

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