An 11-year-old Florida student was suspended after taking an audio recording of what she says is her teacher bullying another student.
Samuel Gaines Academy student Brianna Cooper says she took the recording in an effort to defend her classmate. However, she ended up being suspended for five days after school officials said her actions were illegal, writes Meghan McRoberts for WPTV.
“I thought I did the right thing, but I guess I just got suspended,” Cooper said.
Cooper said she felt the teacher was being mean to another student, and so she decided to record the event with her cell phone. She said on the video the teacher can be heard saying, “Don’t let size fool you. I will drop you… You don’t know me, that’s all I’m saying. So, don’t give me no look.”
She went on to say that this was not the first time the teacher had been mean to students, so Cooper decided to record the incident so that she could have proof. “Do you think that they would actually believe a student over a teacher?” Cooper asked.
Cooper gave the recording to another teacher. Afterwards, she was called to the principal’s office and suspended for “violating the teacher’s privacy.”
Cooper’s mother, Cassie Faulkner, said the school told her that recording a teacher without their knowledge was against the law. “She thought she was doing a good thing. She’s 11-years-old. She doesn’t know the law,” Faulkner said.
According to law enforcement, recording someone without their knowledge is legal as long as it is not expected to be a private conversation. However, school policy does not allow students to use their cell phones during class.
While school officials said the teacher did have an expectation of privacy, Faulkner said the teacher cannot expect any privacy, especially in a room full of children with cell phones.
Faulkner went on to say that she believes the incident will give other students the wrong message. “It’s pretty much saying to students if you think something is wrong, don’t try and do anything about it,” Faulkner said.
She also worried because she says her daughter’s suspension is causing her to miss school days that involves preparation for the Florida Standards Assessment.
The St. Lucie County School District said they have fired the teacher. Cooper’s suspension has been lifted and she is back at school.
“The staff at Sam Gaines Academy investigated the incident involving unprofessional behavior by the teacher and took swift, appropriate action. The teacher was dismissed and no longer works for the school system.”