Cheerleader Sues High School, Facebook To Blame

It occurs to me that we’ve gone several hours without a high school cheerleading controversy, so here you go. The parents of Mandi Jackson have filed a $100,000 lawsuit against officials of Pearl High School in Mississippi, claiming that their daughter’s cheerleading coach invaded her privacy by logging into her Facebook page and reading her email. This story is very shocking and confusing to me: Mississippi has the Internet?

Facebook? Man, that’s sooooo freshman year. But it’s taken some time for this to get to the litigation stage, after Jackson was booted from the cheerleading squad in 2007. That’s when one of her coaches looked at her Facebook page and found obscene correspondence between Jackson and another cheerleader. Nice work, Ms. Ballbricker.

School officials said that all cheerleaders were told coaches would monitor social networking sites, but why do you friend your nosy cheerleading coach on Facebook, Mandi? My motto has always been “The ‘Do Not Accept’ Button Is Your Friend.”

“I didn’t know if I will get in trouble or not for putting it on there, because I didn’t think there was anything wrong with what was on my Facebook,” plaintiff Mandi Jackson said.

Jackson said coach Tommie Hill read the e-mail and suspended her from cheering at football games and pep rallies. “To me that’s my responsibility. What’s going on my Facebook account is every parent’s responsibility to deal with themselves. It’s not hers,” Jackson’s mother, Missy Jackson, said.

Does a high school student have a reasonable right to privacy on his/her own social networking site? As a coach or teacher, should one of your duties be snooping around your students’ email correspondence? These are all very important questions — ones that I would feel more comfortable addressing if the cheerleaders in question were over 18 and wearing less clothes.

I’m not even sure what that means. Sorry.

I guess I come down on the side of the immortal Pink Floyd. Coaches should probably restrict their gaze to what’s physically happening on campus, and not venture too far into The Matrix. For one thing, kids will always be a step-and-a-half ahead of you in there. For another, you’ll have to learn to use Twitter, and therefore possibly run into Shaq. And no one wants that.

Pearl High is also, by the way, where a student got kicked off the school bus for simply saying “Barack Obama is our President.” So consider the source.