Anthony Rotolo, an adjunct faculty member and social media strategist for the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool), was recently interviewed by WSYR Channel 9 about a Facebook scandal at Roxboro Road Middle School in North Syracuse. Watch the video.

A student at the middle school created a Facebook page that included disparaging remarks about a teacher. Roughly 30 other students became fans of the Facebook page and posted comments calling the teacher obscene names and alleging that she snapped at students for no reason.

The student who created the page was suspended, and the page’s fans were given three days of after-school detention. North Syracuse Superintendent Dr. Jerome Melvin said the students were punished because their comments were derogatory, offensive, and could hurt the teacher’s reputation. Many parents felt that school administrators overstepped their disciplinary boundaries and did not let their children attend detention. The situation has since sparked a community-wide debate about free speech and social media.

WSYR Channel 9 asked Rotolo to weigh in on the incident. Rotolo pointed out that students’ right to free speech is limited. “We saw the Supreme Court as recently as 2007 uphold the fact that schools can discipline a student for speech that was made off school grounds if they feel that it’s impacting the policies of the school,” Rotolo said. “So in this case, the district may be within their rights to [punish these students].”

Rotolo teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on enterprise social media at the Syracuse iSchool. He was appointed the iSchool’s first social media strategist this past fall. In this position, Rotolo is working to expand the iSchool’s leadership in social media as an area of study and as a way to enhance traditional instruction. In May 2009, he received the iSchool Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award. In December, he was named a recipient of the 2009 Excellence in Online Education Award by the Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) Consortium.