Public schools

High School Suspended, Expelled Graduating Senior for Harming Gym Teacher's Reputation; Student Now Suing

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expelled for an internet comment
via KARE 11

A high school student in Roger, Minnesota, is suing the school district and the local police chief after he was suspended, then expelled, for a sarcastic comment posted to the Internet from his home. KARE 11, the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis, explains:

[Reid] Sagehorn found himself in the headlines in January of 2014 when he was named in a message on a website called "Roger Confessions' that asked whether he made out with a female physical education teacher at Rogers High School. When he responded with what he calls a sarcastic post that read "Actually Yeah", a Rogers parent saw the post and called principal Roman Pierskalla, who called Sagehorn down to speak with him and a Rogers Police Officer.

Sagehorn was suspended for five days for causing damage to a teacher's reputation.Eventually that suspension was extended another five days, and then morphed into an expulsion. Sagehorn and his attorneys maintain that the post was done out of school, did nothing to disrupt school activities, or constitute a threat to the teacher or her reputation.

The case looks like an example of school districts placing the interests of teachers ahead of that of students. A recent landmark decision in California tackled a more systematic manifestation of this kind of misprioritization—generous tenure rules. In the case of Vergara v. California the Superior Court of California agreed with students who sued a number of California education agencies, arguing that liberal tenure privileges denied them their state constitutionally guaranteed right to an education.

The state appealed the decision and the court's ruling was stayed, but the case could become a major step in disabusing government of the notion that public school systems are jobs programs for teachers rather than an educational service for students. The apparent bizarre decision-making highlighted in the Minnesota lawsuit provides another example of that dangerous notion in action.

NEXT: The Internet Is Not a Safe Space

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  1. What is inherently sarcastic about saying “actually, yeah.” Accusing a teacher of making out with you absolutely harms their reputation. Not saying this went through the appropriate channels, but there would be a civil liability, if nothing else.

    1. I was thinking it’s at least arguably defamation. But that’s a matter for the courts, not the school system. And expulsion seems incredibly out of proportion to the offense.

    2. So, what about the questioner, who is suggesting the teacher has a high enough probability of having made out with students in order to to ask the question?

  2. The case looks like an example of school districts placing the interests of teachers ahead of that of students.

    Wait, what?

  3. While I would like to have sympathy for the taxpayers of Roger, MN who will be footing the bill for the legal defense, and hopefully for the resulting settlement or judgement, I am unable to do so. Only when the taxpayers learn that hiring and retaining idiots will cost them money will the system change.

    1. Only when they disabuse themselves of the notion that the “education” of their children must be financed by means of taxation of all other parents will the system change.

      1. I’d be thrilled if taxation for public schools only came from “parents”.

        1. Good point, very good point.

          Wouldn’t you be even more thrilled if taxation for public schools only came from public sector employees and parents who sent their kids to public schools?

  4. a Rogers parent saw the post and called principal Roman Pierskalla

    Parents’ brains are too squishy and delicate to be exposed to the internet.

    WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE PARENTS?

    1. I would wager a good amount, that the parent who called the principal was the parent of a kid who didn’t like the student who subsequently got expelled. Politicians and unelected bureaucrats love nothing more than being able to use the sheeples against each other. This is how the Nazis did it, our leaders have learned much.

      1. A wager that any wise bookie would not take.

  5. disabusing government of the notion that public school systems are jobs programs for teachers rather than an educational service for students

    Ridiculous. Public school systems are much more than that, first and foremost they are a means to brainwash children at a young age into unquestionably obeying authority.

  6. While I’m not sure expulsion is warranted, if I was the teacher who’s life could have been ruined by 2 little words I would support his expulsion.

    1. Principal: “Ms. Teacher, this is serious. When could this have happened?”

      Ms. Teacher: “Never. Here is my alibi.”

      1. So you’re supposed to keep documented records of where you were all the time?

    2. If he, nor the website actually named the teacher, then how was a specific teacher’s life almost ruined?

      If the teacher WAS named, maybe we should reexamine how we automatically jump to the guilty conclusion whenever a student says they did something?

      1. They fairly obviously didn’t. Not having RTA, I would imagine they conducted an investigation and found the charge unfounded.

        Do we want a replay of campus culture where accusations of sexual misconduct are a one-way ratchet, with the accused taking all the risks of a false accusation and a false accuser never being held accountable?

  7. 1. Did he actually make out with the teacher?
    2. WHere does this school allegedly derive the authority to punish a student to what happens outside of school?

    This bullshit needs to stop. Schools ARE NOT LEOs.

    1. Take two…need moar coffee.

      1. Did he actually make out with the teacher?
      2. Where does this school allegedly derive the authority to punish a student for what happens outside of school?

      This bullshit needs to stop. Schools ARE NOT LEOs.

    2. A school administration is not legally obligated to investigate an employee committing a fireable abuse of authority, possibly a crime committed by an employee on one of the students?

      The “outside of school” action carelessly suggested that wrongdoing had taken place in school.

    3. 1. Did he actually make out with the teacher?

      Well? Did he?? It’s in the best interests of the other male students to figure out who the slutty teachers are as soon as possible.

  8. “The case looks like an example of school districts placing the interests of teachers ahead of that of students.”

    Teacher/student sex is actually a thing. The school can’t legalize it even if it wanted to. It needs to take allegations seriously. Otherwise, people will ask, “why is the school still employing this teacher who fooled around with a student? Why isn’t the teacher in prison?” How many times will the teacher and the school have to say, “look, it was just a joke, no big deal?”

    As for suspending the student rather than suing him, I will at least say that it’s less expensive than civil litigation, as the student’s family will probably discover.

  9. That teacher should just suck it up (phrasing!) and be labeled a rapist, because….???!

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