States News

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

A high-school newspaper article that quoted a student's characterization of a teacher as the worst in the school was not libelous, a California appeals court has ruled.

In a unanimous decision, the three-member California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District in San Francisco last month upheld a lower court's ruling that the student's statements were meant as6opinion, not fact.

Larry L. Moyer, a teacher at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, filed a $1-million lawsuit against the school district, the school's principal and newspaper adviser, and the students who made and reported the comments in March 1988 articles in the school newspaper In Flight.

The original article, and a follow-up story, quoted a student calling Mr. Moyer a "babbler" and "the worst teacher at F.H.S."

In its decision, the appeals court said the "worst teacher" statement "was simply an expression of anger or disgust on the student-speaker's part."

Similarly, the court found the "babbler" statement "a form of exaggerated expression conveying the student-speaker's disapproval of [Mr. Moyer's] teaching or speaking style."

Robert Links, a lawyer for one of the student journalists, hailed the ruling.

"In essence they're saying that even a little newspaper like In Flight can be as important as The New York Times," he said.

Mr. Moyer has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling, his lawyer, Rita Rowland, said last week.

"We were very disappointed," she said, adding that it was a "sad decision for teachers."

Vol. 10, Issue 15

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >