Attorney and social media expert weigh in on Texas teacher's moc - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Attorney and social media expert weigh in on Texas teacher's mock awards

(Source: NBC) (Source: NBC)
(Source: FOX26 Houston via Twitter) (Source: FOX26 Houston via Twitter)
SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) -

The end of the school year is a time when students are excited and ready for the summer, but when Lizeth Villanueva was handed an award by her middle school teacher at Anthony Aguirre Junior High School in Channelview, Texas, on May 23, the 13-year-old was left speechless and couldn't believe what it read.

The mock award read: "Most Likely to Become a Terrorist."

"It was supposed to be a joke," Villanueva said, but added that she did not find it funny.

"Especially after 9/11, and really in light of things that have gone on in Manchester, those are the kind of things that if I was the parent I would be extremely upset," said Attorney Ron Richard.

Villanueva wasn't alone. Another student came forward with a similar tale. 

Villanueva's fellow classmate, a black student, was given the "Most Likely to Blend in with White People" award.

That teacher since then has been fired by the Texas school district but we wanted to know what kind of legal impacts this could carry in the future.

"It's freedom of speech," said Richard. "You can say crazy stuff, but you can get sued for crazy stuff that hurts somebody."

Richard said not only could this have an impact on the teacher, but on Villanueva as well.

"In the face of social media where that thing can blare all over the world, and all of the sudden some nut job seizes on to that and decides to do something to that child - not just a reputation but the actual threat of real harm that can come from that - I would be extremely upset and concerned as a parent, and as a lawyer I would be looking real hard at what can be done about it," he said. 

Erica McCreedy, a social media and public relations expert for the O'Carroll Group, an advertising agency, said just because you may not have social media doesn't mean it won't end up on there.

"Social media is like a fire," McCreedy said. "Once it spreads you can't take it back."

As for the teacher's future, McCreedy says, "She will have a difficult time finding employment and having a clean slate again because something as damaging as this action she carried out will follow her."

"Should she have said it? No. Is it illegal to say it? No. But can she face legal consequences for it? Certainly," said Richard.

The Texas school district released this statement:

"The Channelview Independent School District would like to emphasize that a recent incident where insensitive and offensive mock awards presented to students are in no way associated with the AVID College Readiness System or the AVID Center. Channelview ISD does not support this type of recognition under any circumstances and the placement of the AVID logo on these certificates was an error. At no time was the AVID program itself involved in this unfortunate incident.

"The AVID System is an outstanding college readiness model that has led to continued high levels of student achievement in Channelview ISD. AVID’s system has benefited hundreds of thousands of students worldwide since 1984. Working together with the AVID Center, Channelview ISD’s AVID system provides intensive support to students with tutorials, positive peer groups, and college-readiness skills.

"Channelview ISD would like to reassure the community that this incident does not reflect the many good things going on in our district. The district does not condone the incident that occurred and we are taking this matter very seriously."

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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