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Officials sued for $3m for disciplining MySpace spoofers

Bloodied principal, muzzled students

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The parents of three teens who impersonated their assistant principal in a MySpace profile filed a $3m suit that alleges school officials' disciplinary actions went too far.

The sons of the three plaintiffs, at the time 16-year-old students at a high school in Brighton, Tenn., created an account in the name of the assistant principal. Three days and many satirical comments later, administrators finally learned of the prank and expelled one and suspended the others before giving them disciplinary hearing, according to the Commercialappeal.

Separately, Samy Kamkar, the youth whose AJAX script pulled in a million MySpace friends in several hours, pleaded guilty in California state court, SC Magazine reported. He was sentenced to three years of probation and 90 days of community service. He was also prohibited for using the Internet for personal use for an unknown period of time.

The dispute in Tennessee seems to be populated on both sides with vindictive characters making wildly exaggerated claims. School officials charge at least one of the teens, Christopher P. Barnett, assaulted the school official, even though we've heard no claims of a threatened or attempted physical attack.

The parents claim the prank - which included the posting a picture of the assistant principal and doctoring his official bio to change the third person to first - was a parody that's protected by the students' First Amendment right to free speech. Evidently, impersonating a person online is as protected an act as Jonathan Swift's penning of A Modest Proposal, even if the act contains no commentary.

While Barnett was expelled, the other two students, Kevin D. Black and Gary A. Moses, were admitted back to school. We suggest a summary spanking of parties on both sides and moving on. ®

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