Educators sue Google for defamatory blog takedown

Two New York City school officials are suing for Google to unveil the identity of a blogger who has accused them of pedophilia, incompetence, rape and racism, the New York Post reports. Norman Thomas High School Principal Philip Martin Jr. and Assistant Principal Neil Monheit say the anonymous blogger is spreading false information and wish to clear the air. The allegations appear in a post under an allegedly fake biography of Philip Martin Jr. The heading reads: “Philip Martin Jr, Pedophile, NYC Department of Education.” The Blogspot entry accuses the principal of being late to work, early to leave, being unable to read and write properly, and having “unprotected sex” with “female teenagers.”

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Delaware law to give students increased online privacy

Delaware has become the first state to pass a law banning public and private schools from requiring students to give administration access to social media accounts, Mashable reports. The bill forbids institutions from requesting students to provide passwords or account information, asking students to log onto a social media site in the presence of a government agent, requiring the installation of a monitoring device that gives the institution access, or requiring students to add an agent to their online contacts. The bill — which still needs the governor’s signature to be fully enacted — is a significant move in the long-standing fight for digital privacy, say its advocates.

“Since schools generally do not have a duty to monitor their students’ off campus activities in the real world, they shouldn’t have a duty to monitor their students’ off campus digital activities,” Bradley Shear — the attorney who helped draft the social media law…

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U.S. schools with single-sex classrooms may face ACLU lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening legal action against as many as a dozen school districts from Maine to Mississippi unless they stop programs the group says illegally segregate boys and girls into single-sex classes and promote stereotypes, Reuters reports. The group also was demanding that Florida’s Department of Education launch an investigation into widespread single-sex teaching in that state, where 32 schools in 16 districts offer single-gender classes. A spokeswoman for the department said they had not yet received the demand, which is posted on the ACLU’s website. Single-sex education has expanded into as many as 300 public schools in recent years — helped in part by a 2006 decision by the U.S. Department of Education that relaxed restrictions on the practice. That decision, under President George W. Bush, allowed schools to offer voluntary single-sex classes so long as programs did not violate Title IX, a federal law that outlawed gender discrimination in education…

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Court won’t reduce student’s music download fine

A former Boston University student who was ordered to pay $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs on the Internet says he will continue fighting the penalty, despite the Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to hear his appeal, the Associated Press reports. Joel Tenenbaum, 28, of Providence, R.I., said he’s hoping a federal judge will reduce the amount.

“I can’t believe the system would uphold a six-figure damages amount for downloading 30 songs on a file-sharing system that everybody used,” Tenenbaum said. “I can’t believe the court would uphold something that ludicrous.”

A jury in 2009 ordered Tenenbaum to pay $675,000, or $22,500 per song, after the Recording Industry Association of America sued him on behalf of four record labels, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Brothers Records Inc. A federal judge called the penalty unconstitutionally excessive and reduced the award to $67,500, but the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later reinstated it. The 1st Circuit said a new judge assigned to the case could reduce the award again, but the record labels would then be entitled to a new trial. Tenenbaum, who said he just graduated Sunday from the university with a doctorate in statistical physics, said he doesn’t have the money to pay the judgment……Read More

Ex-student in Rutgers webcam spying case gets 30 days

Prosecutors had asked that Ravi be sent to prison; they did not say how much time he should get.

A former Rutgers University student who used a webcam to spy on his gay roommate was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail—just a fraction of the maximum—in a case that focused attention on anti-gay bullying, teen suicide, and hate-crime laws in the fast-changing internet age.

Dharun Ravi, 20, was also placed on three years’ probation for his part in an episode that burst onto the front pages after his roommate, Tyler Clementi, threw himself to his death off the George Washington Bridge.

“Our society has every right to expect zero tolerance for intolerance,” Judge Glenn Berman said in imposing far less than the maximum, 10 years behind bars.…Read More

Silicon Valley nonprofit files lawsuit challenging California teacher protection laws

A nonprofit founded by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur has filed a sweeping, high-stakes lawsuit challenging state teacher protection laws, TopEd.org reports. A victory would overturn a tenure, dismissal, and layoff system that critics blame for the hiring and retention of ineffective teachers. A loss in court could produce bad case law, impeding more targeted efforts to achieve some of the same goals. Students Matter is the creation of David Welch, co-founder of Infinera, a manufacturer of optical telecommunications systems in Sunnyvale. The new nonprofit filed its lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday on behalf of eight students who attend four school districts. A spokesperson for the organization told the Los Angeles Times that Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad and a few other individuals are underwriting the lawsuit. They have hired two top-gun attorneys to lead the case: Ted Boutrous, a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Ted Olsen, former solicitor general for President George W. Bush…

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Group sues state of California to undo teacher job protection

Students Matter, a non-profit group dedicated to changing the way the Golden State hires and fires teachers, issued a press release alerting of a lawsuit it filed on behalf of eight minors who are students in California public schools. The defendants include the Los Angeles Unified School district and the Alum Rock Union School District, Yahoo! News reports.

What does the lawsuit allege? The complaint filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that “California’s public schools are failing the very children whose interests they are meant to serve.” It cites outdated laws that make it difficult — if not impossible — for school administrators to improve education quality by making “teacher employment decisions driven by the needs of their students.”

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