Brianna Cooper is a well-behaved fifth grader in Fort Pierce, Florida. But when the 11-year-old said her science teacher bullied a fellow student, Brianna used her cell phone to record audio of the alleged abuse as it was happening. She thought she was doing the right thing — yet the school’s response left her mother appalled.
Brianna’s audio recording caught what sounds like the teacher berating the other student. “Biggest kid in fifth grade and you’re acting like the smallest one,” she said. “I wonder what your mom looks like.” But it didn’t stop there — the teacher also dished out what seem to be terrifying threats. “Don’t let the size fool you. I will drop you.”
The fifth grader turned her recording over to another teacher, only to be called down to the principal’s office. Authorities say the teacher in question was fired for verbally abusing the student. However, Brianna’s mother Cassie was shocked to learn that Brianna also received punishment. She was suspended from school for five days, as secretly recording a teacher is illegal in the state of Florida.
The school argued that teachers have an expectation of privacy in the classroom, but Cassie insists Brianna is too young to understand the law and ultimately did a good thing.
If students are encouraged to keep their mouths shut if and when they see something wrong, Brianna’s supporters believe it does more harm than good.
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