Civil Liberties

Federal Government Wants to Bully School Bullies, And Demands School Help


Interesting piece from the Daily Caller on the do-gooder state getting heavy handed when it comes to harassing environments in and around the public schools:

Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they fail to monitor and curb students' lunchtime chat and evening Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed by Washington special-interest groups to be harassment of some students.

There has only been muted opposition to this far-reaching policy among the professionals and advocates in the education sector, most of whom are heavily reliant on funding and support from top-level education officials. The normally government-averse tech-sector is also playing along, and on Mar. 11, Facebook declared that it was "thrilled" to work with White House officials to foster government oversight of teens' online activities…..

The agency's threats, which are delivered in a so-called "Dear Colleague" letter," have the support of White House officials, including President Barack Obama, who held a Mar. 10 White House meeting to promote the initiative as a federal "anti-bullying" policy.

The letter says federal officials have reinterpreted the civil-rights laws that require school principals to curb physical bullying, as well as racist and sexist speech, that take place within school boundaries. Under the new interpretation, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb "harassment" of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths….

School officials will face lawsuits even when they are ignorant about students' statements, if a court later decides they "reasonably should have known" about their students' conduct, said the statement.

The National School Board Association (NSBA) is alarmed:

The department's re-interpretation expands legal risks for schools beyond those set by the Supreme Court in a 1999 decision, said a Dec. 7 NSBA statement. The court decision, which interprets several federal laws, says schools are liable for harassment that school officials know about and that "effectively bars" a student's access to an educational benefit.

The remedies being pushed by administration officials will also violate students' and families' privacy rights, disregard student's constitutional free-speech rights, spur expensive lawsuits against cash-strapped schools, and constrict school official' ability to flexibly use their own anti-bullying policies to manage routine and unique issues, said the NSBA letter. The government has not responded to the NSBA letter.

Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that the NSBA is talking about. In its holding:

A private Title IX damages action may lie against a school board in cases of student-on-student harassment, but only where the funding recipient is deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment, of which the recipient has actual knowledge, and that harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.

Facebook's quick and eager cooperation with this campaign should be a matter of some concern for those who like to keep the borders between private keepers of our data and info and the strong, strong arms of the state more clear and precise.

NEXT: "Tea Party Extremism" vs. Major Party Everydayism

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  1. The inevitable outcome of the ascension to power by the group of kids that constantly got their lunch money stolen, received regular random wedgies, and were always in fear, often realized, of being the subject of the unspeakable – the swirlie. Kind of reminds me of the same sorts of empty puffball sloganeering and campaigning from student body candidates from years gone by, only this time, the nerds can tell rude people to go knock heads if they’re ignored or laughed at.

    1. Revenge of the nerds? Maybe. In any case there is no reason for schools to be monitoring student’s off campus after-hours activities. We have parents who are charged with doing that sort of thing. Even more disturbing is Facebook’s eagerness, nay, glee, at the prospect of being named Official Administration Lackey.

      1. What do you expect? Zuckerburg is a total douche.

  2. One more reason not to have kids. One more reason not to use facebook.

  3. It always amuses me to see the world’s worst bullies–schoolteachers and bureaucrats–decry bullying. A headline the other day even said “Obama Standing Up To Bullies.” Yeah right, the most powerful man in the world “standing up” to bullies.

    1. Don’t you hate that substitution of HTML code for a simple apostrophe in name field?

      1. Yes. Yes I do.

      2. don’t be bullied by that html!

        1. Good idea. Henceforth, I shall be known as OFG. (Until I change to some other alias.)

          1. Or just type regular characters in the name field, and save the HTML for the comments.

            1. Dude, all I do is click on the reply button and type. No HTML involved, other than the HTML imposed by the system.

    2. I don’t see him standing up to me!

  4. Fuck you Barack Obama.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Did they skip that part when you sudied constitutional law, you freedom crushing pimple on an infected boil on a crack whore’s ass?

    Make no mistake about it, I’m fucking serious. Chocolate Jesus, fuck you up your anal retentive ass with a red hot poker.

    1. So, what’s your take on all this?

      I’ve seen no indication that Obama gives two shits about the First Amendment or anything else he may have studied in law school.

      1. My take on Obama’s feelings towards the constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights –

        Liberty just gets in the way of the political class’s doing what’s best for the peasants (who really don’t know ant better).

        1. It is a living Constitution, which means that it means whatever the political class says it does.

    2. Make no mistake about it, I’m fucking serious. Chocolate Jesus, fuck you up your anal retentive ass with a red hot poker.

      Don’t hold back, JsubD – tell us how you really feel. 🙂

    3. Kids don’t have rights. I mean, it’s illegal for their owners to abuse them, but that’s true for pets too.

  5. Another fucking week — another fucking travesty from the Obama regime.

    1. With Big Owe down to 43% approval, the Obamarrhoids are desperately thrashing about trying to find any powerful interests who they can kiss up to to try to regain momentum. That’s the only explanation I can think of for this and the copyright wiretap crap of last week.

      1. Apparently there is no aspect of human endeavor, regardless of how trivial, that is beyond the purview of the federal government.

        1. the Obamatons love to use bullying techniques to intimidate weaker institutions into adopting repressive policies.

  6. You know what they should do? Schools should hand out free laptops but secretly leave the webcams and monitoring software activated so that administrators can view student activity at home.

    1. Yeah, no one would ever abuse that.

    2. Wow, yet another potshot at Pennsylvania’s education system. Have you no mercy?

      1. Pennsylvania has an education system?

        Could have sworn it was an edumacation system…

      2. That was the other side of the commonwealth from me.

  7. So basically if there are any school officials left out there who have any respect for student rights or any common sense, Obama is going to ensure that the federal government sues them into submission.

    It sends a chill down my spine that these people actually think one kid calling another names on face book rises to the level of a federal crime. I don’t even think the Chinese or the NORKS worry about censoring personal insults.

    1. Did you hear what happened to the guy that called Kim Jong-il a fat dork on Facebook? No, you didn’t.

      1. Sure they care about calling Kim Jong Il names. But I doubt they care about kids calling other kids names. Only Obama seems noisy enough to worry about that.

    2. Seriously. Obama is really into suing local governments, isn’t he? (Arizona)

  8. Another day, another reason to never send your kids to public school.

  9. Of course Facebook is thrilled – educrats monitoring students = more ad views.

    1. You mean, other people can see my stuff?

  10. It’s official: Obama has surpassed Bush in overall awfulness. It pains me to say: Bush would never have done this.

    Congratulations, Obamatrons!

  11. Anyone who imagines that surveillance will be restricted to kids is delusional.

    Why are people so fucking, abjectly servile?

    1. I dunno, but I’m starting to come around to belief that there are enough bottoms in the world that those of who don’t desire that fate better figure out how to become tops. It’s like prison — either you fuck or you get fucked.

  12. It pains me to say: Bush would never have done this.

    If Ted Kennedy offered to do a joint press conference announcing the policy with him, he would.

    The thing about this that shows how the new guy is shittier than Bush is the mega-corp enthusiasm for it. Bush wasn’t nearly as tight with Big Everything as Obama is.

  13. Best that us liberals should just let the conservatives allow bulling and weapons into the schools with 40 to 1 student-to-teacher ratios.

    This way, nerds and wimps (only white ones of course…nigger’s are’nt allowed to have guns) can defend themselves with assault rifles…as

    1. Hyperbole much? You’re an even stupider version of shriek. Congratulations.

    2. Reading comprehension fail.

      “Schools are legally liable if they fail to curb “harassment” of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths….”

      And for all of your liberal nannying, what have we got to show for it?

    3. No need. You bully people intensely enough on your own.


  15. The interesting and unique thing about bullying is that it offers a very clear view of the conflict between the natural world (where competition rules) and the “ethical”/”moral” world (where people generally pretend that the natural world doesn’t exist and that competition is unnecessary to become able and free).

    The thing that most people (including but not limited to statists, kids who are bullied, parents, religious people, “nice guys” who can’t get laid) fail to learn is that the natural, competitive world has the ultimate authority over all living things, including mankind. Obama gets this. It’s too bad he’s choosing to kick liberty in the shins by being two-faced about this issue (his support of the Ed. Dept.’s measure just encourages those who don’t get it to continue bringing their delusions to the rest of the world), but at least he personally seems to understand its importance, unlike most other presidents of the past two or three decades.

    1. Come on, trolls! I’m getting impatient. Respond to my post!!!

      1. Your post: too long.

      2. I think you’ve got the concept of trolling backwards.

        1. No trolling intended here. I was referring to the “politically-correct” persuasion of troll.

  16. Why is there no link to the actual text of this “Dear Colleague” letter”?…..01010.html

    This is what the initiative looks like.

    1. from the “Dear Colleague” letter:

      I am writing to remind you, however, that some student misconduct that falls under a school’s anti-bullying policy also may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal antidiscrimination laws enforced by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
      School districts may violate these civil rights statutes and the Department’s implementing regulations when peer harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability [OMGLOLWTF-paul] is sufficiently serious that it creates a hostile environment and such harassment is encouraged, tolerated, not adequately addressed, or ignored by school employees

      Holy. Fucking. Shit.

      Two kids picking on eachother is now literally an issue of federal involvement. This country is even more fucked than I ever thought it was on my most cynical day.

      Gentlemen, it’s time to start fondling the firearms.

      1. I need to take a rape shower after reading that “Dear Colleague” letter.

        1. It is worth pointing out that there doesn’t seem to be anything in the letter other than a reminder. These policies are long standing. Nothing new. Yadda yadda. Other than some increased reporting requirements (accountability measures for school officials), nothing in here is a change in the basic rules…as far as I can tell.

  17. Everyone knows kids have no rights! I say we put the bullies in prison and try them as adults for murder- as they have killed some poor child’s self esteem. Life for bullies- that will serve as a deterent against bullying.

    1. Spencer, I hope that was a sarcastic comment.

      1. I wa thinking more satirical.

  18. Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling; graphic and written statements, which may include use of cell phones or the Internet; or other conduct that may be physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating. Harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents. Harassment creates a hostile environment when the conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by a school. When such harassment is based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, it violates the civil rights laws that OCR enforces.

    Seems equivalent to

    harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.

    I seem to be missing the “re-interpretation” piece here.

    1. No doubt willfully.

      1. No. I was looking for it and couldn’t find it. Please point it out. I may have missed something.

  19. I’m pretty cynical/skeptical about government “initiatives” to “end bullying.” But I’d like to know, does the policy simply make officials liable for not taking reasonable steps to address bullying they know about (or should, given their positions, know about)? Because that sounds less radical to me. If a school teacher knows that students are tormenting another student and fails to address it in some reasonable way then that is kind of a problem. If you are going to make me pay for schools and make me send my kid to one then yes, you have some duties to watch out for their well being, and being tormented by bullies could fall under that.

    1. I think it’s still pretty radical if they’re supposed to have anything at all to say about activities that happen outside of school entirely. Stop bullying during school, at school, sure. But even if a principal knows about bullying happening at home, at night, on Facebook, I don’t think he should even be permitted to do anything–I would consider that harassment. It would be like if we let prison guards continue ordering people around after their time had been served and they were allowed to go home.

      And yes, I absolutely consider public schools prisons for innocent children. I went to one. (And I know that schools punish kids all the time for stuff that goes on outside, like suspending them for crimes that have nothing to do with school. I find it horrific.)

      1. I actually share your concern about school officials addressing harrassment that occurred completely off school grounds, but with two caveat-counter-concerns: what about 1. off campus harrassment that is part of a larger series of harrassments occurring on school grounds and 2. off campus harrassment with an on-campus origin (say two kids don’t even live in the same neighborhood, they are introduced solely through school, and one, deciding he doesn’t like the other, starts harrassing the kid at the mall, on Facebook, etc.,)?

        1. In case 1, the school should already be dealing with the on-grounds situation; that dealing may include telling the harasser to keep away from the harassee after hours. It’s not a matter of having to snoop for certain types of activity off grounds and after hours where there is NO prior history, as the administration is urging.

          Case 2 is a case of suck up and deal.

          1. It’s not a matter of having to snoop for certain types of activity off grounds and after hours where there is NO prior history, as the administration is urging.

            That is not what the administration is urging. The letter is pretty clear about “knows about or should have known about.” Nothing about “must take extraordinary actions to root out hidden things.”

            1. “Should have known about” implies that they should be doing proactive investigations. If they were merely talking about responding to reports of bullying, then “knows about” would have covered it.

              1. “doing proactive investigations” does not equal “snoop for certain types of activity off grounds and after hours where there is NO prior history.”

                1. Sorry, I’m not getting sucked into your semantic games again.

                  1. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to do that. I mean, we might end up arguing over the meaning of “oversight” or “should have known about” implies.

        2. Yeah, agree with Tulpa on both points.

      2. At a minimum, public schools have a responsibility to your child that includes reasonable oversight of their safety as s/he travels to and from school activities and are out of your direct supervision.

        1. Hogwash. I walked a mile to and from school; should the school have sent someone to monitor me while walking?

          School buses are a different matter, since they really are part of the school system. But saying that in general the school has to act as parent after school hours and off of school grounds is insanity.

          1. Hogwash. I walked a mile to and from school; should the school have sent someone to monitor me while walking?

            I walked as much as 3 miles. No, they should not have sent someone to monitor you. But, if you came to them and said “Neu Mejican has been picking on me while I am walking home” they would be required to investigate and take action if they discovered that your story held any water.

            1. Unless you’ve now redefined “oversight”, that’s not what you were talking about. It’s also not what the administration is demanding.

              1. How would this be redefining “oversight”?

                It’s also not what the administration is demanding.

                It is pretty close to what the letter describes. Where do you see a difference?

                1. Oversight does not merely entail sitting back and waiting for someone to tell you something is wrong with what you’re overseeing.

                  Oversight requires proactive monitoring of a situation.

                  1. Oversight requires proactive monitoring of a situation.

                    Yep. It does not, however, mean they need to send you home with a chaperon. Putting policies in place to monitor students well being and to make it clear of the consequences of bullying other students on the journey to and from school is proactive enough to count as oversight. These things are not, really, that mysterious.

      3. Bullshit. Don’t stop bullying in school- at all. And I’m not trying to troll, I’m trying to make a point. The only correct way to deal with bullies is to improve yourself and overcome them, instead of bitching to a teacher, principal, parent, etc. that you were being picked on. There are no such authority figures in the real world. Bullies don’t go away after you leave school, you just run into new ones who are better at hiding their bullying actions.

        Back in caveman days, Caveman A didn’t cry to some mysterious authority figure that Caveman B was bullying him. You know how Caveman A dealt with Caveman B? He killed him or otherwise regained what was his by improving himself the old-fashioned way until he could outsmart him. And if Caveman A failed to improve himself, he remained a bitch or died. End of story.

        And why, despite all these “initiatives” to “end” bullying, do bullies continue to be complained about? It’s because those who are bullied refuse to be honest with themselves about the source of their problems. THEY are the source of their problems because they refuse to improve. Not the bully. The bully is perfectly within his right to do what he wants as long as he does not get caught. It’s YOUR responsibility to master the natural world. Not society’s.

    2. If you are going to make me pay for schools and make me send my kid to one

      There’s an easy solution for this, but you and your ilk will fight tooth and nail against it.

      then yes, you have some duties to watch out for their well being, and being tormented by bullies could fall under that.

      On school grounds, during school hours, and perhaps at school sponsored transportation and activities. Beyond that, you as a parent have to take care of your kids.

    3. Wouldn’t that be an issue between the parent and the school district? Read the “Dear Colleage” letter Neu linked above.

      Please also note that OCR has added new data items to be collected through its Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which surveys school districts in a variety of areas related to civil rights in education. The CRDC now requires districts to collect and report information on allegations of harassment, policies regarding harassment, and discipline imposed for harassment. In 2009-10, the CRDC covered nearly 7,000 school districts, including all districts with more than 3,000 students

      This is a massively, stunningly intrusive system. School are actually supposed to submit reports about what bullying took place, and what remedial action was taken by school administrators. For the first time in a very long time, I’m actually feeling sorry for the schools.

      Imagine some pencil-necked federal administrator with spiffy matching binders looking over your shoulder constantly…

      This is why schools (my daughter’s for example) are taking on the most ridiculous rules- causing my nine-year-old to roll her eyes because she’s feeling infantilized. She’s NINE… AND SHE FEELS INFANTILIZED BY HER SCHOOL SYSTEM.

      It’s all beginning to make sense now. The system is diseased. We can no longer deal with these things through the natural, human interactions and voluntary relationships– it’s a monolith with some regulatory arm collecting bullying reports in a SQL database printing adhoc reports with flow-charts showing remedial actions–which are analyzed by a throng of federal employees “trained” in recognizing behavior which might result in possible psychological health issues.

  20. Thank You, Barry the Muslim!!!

    You just delivered another 100,000 to the GOP this coming election. Keep the hits coming!

    1. Yeah, keep that Barry the Muslim stuff up, that’ll work wonders with independents in 12, almost as well as it did in 08! We liberals are counting on guys like you, don’t let us down!

  21. Re: facebook

    We encourage people on Facebook to use the report buttons located across our site to let us know if they find content that violates our terms of use so we can take it down. But taking down harassing online comments won’t necessarily help people solve the underlying problem in the offline world. Social reporting is a way for people to quickly and easily ask for help from someone they trust. Safety and child psychology experts tell us that online issues are frequently a reflection of what is happening offline. By encouraging people to seek help from friends, we hope that many of these situations can be resolved face to face. [Facebook, 3/10/11]

    I don’t see here that facebook is sharing this information with the government. They seem to be providing a tool for individuals to report to someone of their choice. Did I miss something?

  22. Reason is late with this story. I read about it day before yesterday at The Daily Caller.

    1. You just crossed the line, Buddy.

      Wanna try sayin’ that nicely?

    2. Well, it would have been difficult for Reason to post a big quote from The Daily Caller before TDC had written its story, yes?

  23. Appropriate rectification of the bully problem.

  24. Facebook declared that it was “thrilled” to work with White House officials to foster government oversight of teens’ online activities…..

    So the same Facebook that took down the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day page is going to report children to schools for discipline if they write something offensive. This is bad.

  25. I’m disappointed to see gay rights supporters lining up behind this.

    Unfortunately, the government could use the same means of privacy intrusion that they support against them. This is not the right way to stop bullying. Stripping people of their rights and privacy is another form of bullying. Don’t fight fire with fire. I appreciate the fact that bullying does occur against gays (and against lots of other people too by the way) but using government intrusion is going to backfire.

    1. What’s RC’z Iron Law? Me today, you tomorrow.

  26. I saw plenty of bullying when I was in school, and was both on the ass end of it and, more rarely, on the bullying end (boo me). My experience has given me some insight into what needs to be done to prevent further tragedies: train kids to stop being fucking pussies. As a former little whining pussy, I see it as a major lost opportunity not to have that shit beaten out of me by a professional.

    Fastest solution — have drill instructors teach classes. Have all non-disabled kids do physical education, rigorously, including learning mixed martial arts. Those who cry about anything short of disembowelment get waterboarded. Bonus: nerds, fatties, and effeminate males (gay or not) will all become physically fitter and more menacing, thus eliminating several reasons to bully.

    1. That’s not really a solution considering kids grow at vastly different rates. “Stop being a pussy” isn’t much use to a boy who hasn’t entered puberty yet when faced with a beatdown from a classmate who is already building up muscle.

      And of course, if the only thing preventing people from successfully defending themselves in hand to hand combat was pussyhood, then anyone who requires a gun must ipso facto be a pussy.

      1. It is totally a solution, Tulpa. A pre-pubescent boy like the one you mentioned could easily compensate for his lack of muscle by improving his tactics. But the problem is that a lot of boys like that would rather embrace their call-for-mommy instincts because it’s easier to depend on someone else to carry you than it is to carry yourself. It’s easier to cheat than it is to get by through honest effort and work.

    2. Just said that:…..nt_2189971

    3. Also said it here:…..nt_2189460

      Nature isn’t going to go away, no matter how often people wish it away. You could either sit on your ass all day wishing that the bullies would “just stop” or that the world should cater to your lack of desire to help yourself, or you could accept reality and build up your defenses without going to mommy and daddy or the authorities.


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