Tennessee Students Suspended After Posting Mug Shot Of Teacher on Instagram

TiffanyJacksonThree Tennessee middle school students have been suspended from Highland Oaks Middle School in Memphis in the latest example of schools policing social media, a trend that I have criticized in the past. In this case, the students posted a mug shot of teacher Tiffany Jackson after she was arrested for driving on a suspended license. This is a publicly available photo and it is obvious why students would send it to each other on Instagram. Yet, the school suspended the students anyway.

Suspension for the re-posting of a public picture in my view is well beyond the proper purview of school officials. School officials however have responded that it was not technically the re-posting but “inappropriate use of electronic media” that was the basis for the suspensions (later reduced to one day).

Richardson told the station she did not think it fair her son was disciplined for re-posting a photo that was public record. The school says that the students “were using district computers — not personal cell phones — to access inappropriate websites and content not related to the lessons that day.”

I expect that students routinely stray in the use of such computers and do not receive suspensions. The motivating factor appears to be the specific picture involved in the incident. The students reportedly apologized and, with notice to the parents, that should have ended the matter in my view.

By the way, Ms. Jackson takes a very nice mug shot for an amateur arrestee.

72 thoughts on “Tennessee Students Suspended After Posting Mug Shot Of Teacher on Instagram”

  1. bam, In the scheme of things, this is really small potatoes. There has much worse. For some reason, Poncrates doesn’t bug me too much.

  2. This thread is kinda weird. Public info displayed, so what?

    The conversation is way to outa hand for such a frivolous ‘event’. What next? Compare the kids to ISIS? ;-D

    By the way, I’m with Nick Spinelli. 🙂

    Nick, one Q: When did the USA change from a Constitutional Republic to a democracy? I only ask because there is a HUGE diff between the 2. Look it up, PLEASE, every one! Thanks.

    The term ‘democracy’ is used to refer to the US form of govt all over the place. A democracy is NOT a good form of govt.

    Thanks every one. I got a lot of chuckles from a lot of the comments.


    1. SamFox – I always considered the United States a Republican form of government.

  3. Nick and Paul

    Thought that the two of you could use a little comicial relief.

    This thread reminds me of this clip.

    Not sure why. 🙂

  4. Paul C. Schulte

    “Ponacrates – I said a day off was fair for what they did. ”

    I’m not arguing about the severity punishment. None of us here is close enough to the circumstances to have a truly informed opinion about what is a fair. Better to leave that to the discretion of the school officials who are the ones most familiar with the facts and the people involved.

    The main question raised by the post is whether the the school officials should be able to punish the students at all. Sounds like you agree with me that they should.

    “Porn I would have given them a week (they would have to get past the porn filter). ”

    IMO, this is actually a more dangerous viewpoint in terms of ensuring 1st Amendment liberties, because you are determining the punishment based on the content of the information disseminated.

    One of the hallmarks of 1st Amendment law is that content based restrictions require the absolute strictest scrutiny, because there simply cannot be Freedom of Speech if officials are allowed discretion to punish based on what speech they like or do not.

    We shouldn’t distinguish between p*rn, mugshots, bomb plans, or any other content when punishing for the inappropriate use of harmful information. Unless the punishment is content neutral, you create a far more insidious threat to Freedom of Speech than you cure.

    1. Ponacrates – most schools have porn filters on them. If they got to the porn they got past the filter, therefore, more punishment. Besides, porn is usually illegal on campus. Bomb plans are another issue. I would say your average teacher would not know a bomb plan from a plan for a planter box with lights. If it is a class project, I am okay with the bomb. If it is extracurricular then they get suspended.

  5. Nick

    NOW you are required to explain why a lost key to one’s house is not an open invitation to come live at your residence. You must also explain why a misplaced credit card is not permission to charge merchandise to someone else’s account.

    I don’t know how long you’ve been subject to this idiocy, but my hat’s off to you. This must get tedious.

  6. Thank you, Nick. I appreciate the compliments. Right back at ya. 🙂

    I think that people, who have had extensive contact with various elements of society, which is the norm when doing PI work for decades, have a much broader grasp of the realities of life and seem to get it, for lack of a better term. Often those who have been confined to the ivory towers of academia, or merely the classroom, usually tend to view the world through rose-colored lenses, possessing a certain degree of naivete which prohibits them from applying a standard with consistency.

  7. Nick Spinelli

    “Poncrates, I’m not an attorney. I am a PI.”

    Gee, had me fooled.

    “If you put your trash on the curb then it’s contents is PUBLIC.”

    Yes, and if you find a credit card in that trash and try to use the information on it to buy something, you’ve committed a felony. What’s your point?

    “Put on your big boy pants first and make sure you’re sitting down in case you get the vapors. LOL!”

    With all the dumpster diving you apparently do, sounds like you need those Big Boy pants a lot more than I do. (You might want to think about some cologne for the vapors as well.)

    1. Ponacrates – Nick is right about the trash being free. Leave it on the curb and it is free game. The police do not need a subpoena to go thru it. There are several cases that were made by the LEOs collecting the garbage regularly.

  8. @NickS

    IIRC I had a fuss once with someone here who thought the police had to have either a warrant or probable cause to go through someone’s garbage. I cited law and everything but they were never convinced. You may be in an uphill battle.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. Isaac, You really don’t understand the Constitution. The First Amendment allowed despicable Nazi’s to march in the city of Skokie, a city w/ many Holocaust survivors. UGLY, yes. Protected speech, yes again. The First Amendment protects ugly speech as well as noble speech, equally. That’s what makes it so strong. The First Amendment is currently under assault. This assault is more pernicious than any time in my lifetime. You and Poncrates are part of the problem, not part of the solution. You just don’t get it.

  10. bam bam, Your common sense is impressive. Common sense is becoming rare in our culture, and certainly on this blog and thread.

  11. Poncrates, I’m not an attorney. I am a PI. Here’s the way it works. If something happens in public, IT’S PUBLIC. If I’m videotaping a person on a surveillance, and they’re in PUBLIC, then it’s PUBLIC. If a record is PUBLIC information, then it’s PUBLIC and can be displayed on the internet, in newspapers, or posted on bathroom walls in titty bars. If you put your trash on the curb then it’s contents is PUBLIC. I know that cite is California v Greenwood off the top of my head.

    Free speech can be REALLY messy and ugly. Go to Smoking Gun, TMZ, Bleacher Report, Mugshots.com or any of many such websites. Put on your big boy pants first and make sure you’re sitting down in case you get the vapors. LOL!

  12. Nick Spinelli: “Poncrates, If a record is public, then one is free to use that public information any way they wish.

    I am not aware of any caselaw or statute that supports your rather simplistic interpretation of the current law in this area. But since you are such an expert in public records, perhaps you might enlighten me with even one citation to back up your blanket assertion?

  13. isaac

    I agree that the students may not have had the best of intentions when they posted the teacher’s mug shot; however, as you mentioned, there may a bright side to this if, in fact, the posting serves to prevent future possible harm. At this point, neither one of us knows the underlying charge or charges which resulted in the withdrawal of this teacher’s driving privileges. If this teacher had her license suspended because she has a substance abuse problem and gets behind the wheel, would you want her, possibly, transporting your kids? What about if she fled from the scene of an accident? Exposing a criminal act, which is what driving while suspended is, should not be punished because it may prevent possible harm to these kids, or any others, in the future.

    Just think, what if somebody, ANYBODY, would have SNITCHED on the wacko pilot who just flew into a mountain, taking 150 lives with him? Had someone close to him, with an intimate knowledge of this man’s disturbed mindset, only SNITCHED on him, we would have another 150 souls still with us today. Instead of people raising a red flag and wildly protesting his fitness to fly, the DON’T SNITCH mentality has resulted in a tragic loss of life. Numerous people, along the line, knew of this man’s unfit status to fly. Not enough was done to bring it to the proper attention.

    Please tell me that you don’t poison the impressionable minds of youngsters and encourage them to look the other way.

  14. Paul C. Schulte

    “To emphasize the obvious, the students were punished for misuse of student equipment (to wit, the computer), not finding and forwarding the photo.”

    I fail to see how this helps your argument. The fact that a school computer was used gives the school a legitimate interest in controlling dissemination of information from that computer. What if the students had used the school computers to disseminate p*rn, or better yet, publicly available information on how to build a pipe bomb? Would you still say the school has no right of control over its own property to stop the students from doing those things either?

    Couple that legitimate interest with the school’s other legitimate interest in protecting its employees from unwarranted abuse, and the case for allowing the students to continue their activities on school computers fails miserably.

    1. Ponacrates – I said a day off was fair for what they did. Porn I would have given them a week (they would have to get past the porn filter). Students are curious. You want to keep them that way not hinder it.

      For example, when I was teaching I caught a student drawing me being killed by various methods. Now, I could have raised a fit and had him kicked out of school. However, the drawing was pretty good. So, what I did was take the drawing and put in on the board above my desk pointing it out to all the students. If I ended up dead, every student in that class knew who was suspect one.

  15. Bam Bam

    So ethical and moral behavior equates to scouring the public files and smearing them over the internet and then demanding the right of free speech. This goes along with the ‘Well everyone is doing it.’ justification. I taught responsibility, respect, common sense and to think before you act. Getting the ‘dirt’ on someone and publishing it is as far from moral and ethical behavior as one can get, unless it is to prevent harm being done to someone. These kids did it for the fun of it. You defend it. What’s most degrading is you cite the Constitution a work meant to protect people not to assist in harming them.

  16. Poncrates, If a record is public, then one is free to use that public information any way they wish. Your disliking it is irrelevant. This is my business. I have dealt w/ public information for 4 decades. You sir/madam, show a naivete that is amusing @ best.

  17. isaac

    Wow, so snitching, or reporting a wrong, is, according to you, a teacher of some sort, equivalent to irresponsibility? Your classroom must be a bastion for ethical and moral guidelines.

    No wonder the schools produce students so lacking in any sense of ethical and moral behavior. Teachers, such as this, encourage this morally bankrupt behavior, where obfuscating the truth is glorified and worthy of praise.

  18. “Ponacrates, Your match analogy is ludicrous.”

    Thank you for your unvarnished opinion. May I suggest that, in the future, a modicum of explanation as to why you find the analogy ludicrous, or even distinguishable, might render your opinion a bit more persuasive.

    “Booking photos are available to anyone.”

    Its not about availability. Its about use. You clearly fail to understand the difference.

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