Four months ago, I posted about the case of Frank J. Rybicki, a college professor at Valdosta State who was sued, arrested for battery, and suspended from teaching after he took it upon himself to shut the laptop of a student who refused to stop surfing the web during class.
A couple of days ago a Georgia jury found Rybicki not guilty of battery. To the surprise of no oneâ€”including, I’m fully confident, the student in questionâ€”â€œnobody was able to offer evidence that he intended to hurt his student’s finger.â€ In response to the â€œcustomer is always rightâ€ argument made by some RBC commenters the first time, Rybicki
said he thought the real issue in the case was the right of a professor to maintain the classroom as a learning environment. He said that he realizes that some students disagree, and tell him things like “I paid for this class so I should do what I want.” But Rybicki said that what a student pays for is “for me to teach,” and that means setting some standards in the classroom.
It sounds as if the vast majority of Valdosta State students backed Rybicki, a popular teacher.
This is not, however, a happy ending. Given the acquittal, Rybicki will now be free to teach in 2011-12. But the university told him in June that he wouldn’t be welcome after that. (Rybicki doesn’t have tenureâ€”but unless the reporting is very bad indeed, it sounds as if he’s been fired well before his tenure review.)
As I said the first time, if your opinion on this resembles mine, a certain college president needs to hear it. And now that opinion will enjoy the backing of twelve duly empaneled citizens.