Fifth Grader Records Teacher Verbally Abusing Students, Gets Suspended for It

An eleven-year-old girl in Fort Pierce, Florida has been suspended for documenting her instructor's bullying.


Brianna Cooper had watched her teacher belittle students before and decided to do something about it. She recorded the teacher telling someone that they were the, "Biggest kid in the fifth grade and you acting like the smallest one.” She also caught the teacher telling one of her classmates, “Don't let the size fool you. I will drop you."

Fort Pierce Elementary School obviously took the recording seriously—they fired the teacher for these remarks, but they also have disciplined Cooper for recording the incidents. The school has a strict policy on illegally recording audio, which they are sticking by despite the unique nature of this case. As attorney Michelle Suskauer told a local news affiliate, “They argue that a classroom is that type of situation, but what we have here is an 11-year-old who is trying to do the right thing. You can't look at this in a vacuum and say, 'Well, the child videotaped a teacher, and therefore that was illegal, so the child needs to be suspended for five days.’”

Many believe that the rule used to suspend Cooper should be rendered obsolete as cell phones have permeated schools and changed the dynamics of documentation. Cooper’s parents are concerned because her suspension occurred while Florida students are preparing for the Florida Standards Assessment Test.

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