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Dispute over teacher review goes from classroom to courtroom
SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN)-- A student Web site is turning the tables on teachers at City College San Francisco, and that has led one angry professor to take the site's webmaster to court.
The site, www.teacherreview.com, lets students post their opinions about teachers at the school and give them a grade.
English professor Daniel Curzon-Brown was angered by reviews that put him near the bottom of all teachers at the college. He said some of the reviews used foul language and attacked his sexual orientation.
Curzon-Brown filed suit against City College San Francisco and the former student who created and runs the site.
"You don't have to prove you're a student, and if you're a real student, you can send a whole bunch of reviews to get somebody. I call it grade rage," Curzon-Brown said.
The site's webmaster, Ryan Lathouwers, says he can't be held responsible for the attacks.
"I'm sure (negative comment) happens, but I'm sure it's in the minority, I mean, that's life. If you look at the site, over half of all reviews give a teacher an 'A,'" Lathouwers said.
Some legal experts say the law is on Lathouwser's side.
"I realize this person's, this teacher's, feelings have been hurt. I think that some of the things that have been said about him are dreadful, but I think that the immunity provision that's in the Communications Decency Act really protects the student who operates the site," said Pamela Samuelson, a law and technology professor at the University of California-Berkley School of Law.
However, legal arguments about Internet freedom have not satisfied Curzon-Brown.
"What other job would say we'll have a site where people can go and write anonymous reviews of you for the whole world to read, without any verification of their legitimacy and your reputation could just hang there in the wind?" he said.
Teachers throughout the country may soon be in the same position. Lathouwers is helping to launch a new Web site that will review teachers nationwide.
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