Accusations that two 16-year-old students cyber ambushed their assistant principal have landed their parents in legal trouble, highlighting what has become a new battleground for student-educator animosity.
Anna Draker, an assistant principal at Clark High School in the Northside Independent School District, filed a civil lawsuit against two students at the school — junior Benjamin Schreiber and sophomore Ryan Todd — and the boys' parents, claiming defamation, libel, negligence and negligent supervision over a page on the popular Web site MySpace.com.
Benjamin also is facing criminal felony charges. Both boys are named in the lawsuit.
"This is the most serious, most concerted effort that I've seen a teacher or a school administrator undertake involving a posting on MySpace," said Steve Jones, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois-Chicago and author of "CyberSociety" who has written extensively on Internet use.
Draker found out in April that someone had created a page on MySpace, a public free-access Web site popular among students, using her name and picture from the school's Web site. The page was filled with, according to Draker's attorney, Murphy Klasing, lewd, defamatory and obscene comments, pictures and graphics. It was written as though Draker herself had posted the information.
The Web page included instant messages from people Draker didn't know who lived near Clark High and made suggestive, lewd and obscene comments based on the Web page's content.
Klasing said Draker wants the students to face consequences. She's suing for an unspecified amount for damages for emotional distress, mental anguish, lost wages and court costs, but Klasing said the lawsuit is really about teaching a lesson.