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High School Principal Upset Over Facebook Parody, Has Student Arrested at School

Here's a bizarre story from the far-flung corners of Fresno County. A Clovis West High School principal got more than upset -- he got even -- after student repeatedly logged onto a Facebook page that parodied the school master.

Some might say the principal, Benjamin Drati, overreacted when he had police arrest the student at school while he was in the middle of taking his English test, according to a claim filed in Sacramento Superior Court.

The student, Jacob Fleener, says he didn't create the satirical site nor did he use school computers to log onto the Facebook page.

But police interrogated him anyway and an employee with the school's resource center came in and confiscated the boy's cell phone. The cops read him his Miranda rights and then he was released to his father. He later apologized to the principal, according to news reports.

The school wrote a letter to his parents saying Fleener had been arrested and suspended for participating in ID theft because the Facebook page used the principal's photo that was lifted from the school's Web site. The letter also stated that he would be suspended for five days and then transferred to alternative education program.

"Jacob did not create the Drati Facebook page. He was given the log-in information by two other Clovis West students who created the Facebook page," his attorneys argued. He "logged onto the page on five occasions over a several-week period and made posts."

The complaint states that Fleener never logged onto the page during school hours.

After he served his suspension, Drati and other school officials pursued the transfer, much to his parent's disappointment. School officials then dropped Fleener from his classes at Clovis West, telling him he had to enroll elsewhere. Then the district abruptly reversed its decision and informed Fleener that he could come back to Clovis and make up his classwork. He was also told his purported arrest record would be expunged.

However, the Fleener family says those records were never erased from his files, and he was unable to make up all of his missed school work. As a result, his grades dropped, according to the claim.

The District Attorney's Office says that no crime had been committed and so it declined to pursue the case. Still, Drati insisted that Fleener had committed identity theft and was a cyber-bully.

Fleener is now suing the district seeking damages for slander, infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.


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Posted in: News on May 13, 2011 @ 3:07 PM

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