A fifth-grader at Fort Pierce Elementary School, Brianna Cooper, was given a five day suspension after she recorded a teacher threatening another student in class.
In the audio recorded by Cooper, the teacher can be heard saying, “Don’t let the size fool you. I will drop you.”
Later on, the teacher can be heard saying, “Biggest kid in the fifth grade and you acting like the smallest one.”
After she turned the recording over to school officials, the teacher was fired. However, Cooper was also suspended because her recording was “illegal.”
The school maintained that her recording was illegal because the teacher had no knowledge of it, and thus it violated the teacher’s expectation of privacy.
According to Florida law:
“Florida makes it a crime to intercept or record a “wire, oral, or electronic communication” in Florida, unless all parties to the communication consent. Florida law makes an exception for in-person communications when the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation, such as when they are engaged in conversation in a public place where they might reasonably be overheard.”
However, Cooper’s mother did not agree with the administrators’ statement that the teacher had an expectation of privacy, since the comments were made in a class full of students.
She asked the school to overturn the suspension and permanently remove it from Cooper’s record.
The school issued a statement responding to the class incident:
“The staff at Sam Gaines Academy investigated the incident involving unprofessional behavior by the teacher and took swift, appropriate action. The teacher was dismissed and no longer works for the school system.”
However, no comment was made about Cooper’s suspension.