5th grader suspended after recording teacher taunting student

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FORT PIERCE, Fla. – A Florida elementary student was suspended from school after she recorded audio of a teacher taunting a student during class.

Brianna Cooper, a fifth-grader at Fort Pierce Elementary School, recorded her teacher telling a classmate, “Don’t let the size fool you. I will drop you.”

Later in the recording, the teacher can be heard telling the student, “…biggest kid in the fifth grade and you acting like the smallest one.”

Cooper turned over the audio to school officials and the teacher was later fired, according to WPTV. However, Brianna was suspended from school for five days because the recording was “illegal.”

The school determined she obtained the recording illegally because it was made without the teacher’s knowledge and violated the teacher’s expectation of privacy.

The Florida law states:

Florida makes it a crime to intercept or record a “wire, oral, or electronic communication” in Florida, unless all parties to the communication consent. Florida law makes an exception for in-person communications when the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation, such as when they are engaged in conversation in a public place where they might reasonably be overheard.

While school administrators say the teacher had an expectation of privacy, Brianna’s mom says this is not the case in a room full of students.

Brianna’s mother has asked the school to rescind the suspension and have it permanently removed from record.

The school issued a statement on the teacher:

The staff at Sam Gaines Academy investigated the incident involving unprofessional behavior by the teacher and took swift, appropriate action.  The teacher was dismissed and no longer works for the school system.

The school has not commented on the suspension of the student.


  • bob

    Fortunately, Utah only requires ONE party’s consent. So you can record anything that your eyes can legally see or your ears hear. Which is logical.

    You have no “expectation of privacy” when addressing a room full of people.

  • Samantha Lynn Graham

    Florida may have that certain regulation regarding a two party consent, but if you think about it, those regulations do not apply to a minor. Do they? She didn’t sign an agreement, and she is too young to be penalized. This school has no right to suspend her. For the law does not apply to a child who does not understand. Her ignorance of this law is what makes the school’s decision unjustified.

  • MJ Brewer

    If the teacher had done nothing wrong, this article wouldn’t have been written. Teachers are supposed to be a child’s mentor, NOT tormentor. This child should be a commended whistle blower. If there were more proactive students, there would be less bullying teacher abuse. If not for her, this teacher would still be employed and bullying some other student.

  • Bonnie Jacobson

    I find it terrifying that a educator should have an expectation of privacy interacting with a student in any situation. All teachers should expect their student interactions to be public and subject to constant monitoring and evaluation. The administrator that expelled the student should also be fired.

    • Nita

      Those Re my thoughts exactly! The fact they were in a public school with a classroom full of people, made that a public place.

      The school interpreted the law completely wrong… That’s why they would not comment!

  • Jane Doe

    If it had been a student bulling a Teacher it wouldn’t have been illegal, it would have been ok then.

    • Carlos

      No it would have not been ok but the teacher is there to help ppl not
      Bulling them if the kid been bully was ir kid or u will u have been ok with that then????? Cuz if u will Ur a bad parent or will be

  • Marko

    The student clearly broke the law, and the school clearly made the correct choice to suspend her. Does the mother want to raise a little criminal. or teach the child that the law is the law. Mommy and daughter should simply take their lumps and move on.


      You have the same mentality as the Gestapo in WWII Marko. The law of the land was to put men, women, and children into gas chambers and there certainly wasn’t any place for those who questioned the law.

    • miles (dave)

      there are a hand full of reasons to believe the little girl did not break the law so before you state she did you will need to debunk those reasons first. if you manage to do that then you will need to come to understand what the concept “spirit of the law” means (in a nut shell it means you prosecute based on the reason the law was written not just the fact the law exists), this is most commonly used in a biblical seance however the understanding that this is a important and useful idea to use in our law system today is shown in instances like that law enforcement officers can let you off with a warning even though you clearly broke the law, and there is clear parameters for punishments that you should receive.

      if it can be proven that the little girl broke the letter of the law (she clearly broke the law as it is written by definition, and things like her age and the fact the event occurred in a public place and other factors dose not permit the recording) then the questions must be asked, did this girl cause unreasonable damage? and was cases like this the reason this law was written?

    • colonthorn

      Actually, the student did not break the law, and a simple search can establish this. The legal counsel for the school should be questioned to see if they are competent as it has been established that a classroom does not constitute a locale with the expectation of privacy. As such, the law does NOT apply in the location, as recording laws specifically exclude locations deemed to be public where there is not the expectation of privacy. See: Robert v. Houston Independent School. https://csl.sog.unc.edu/node/1173.

      Please take the time to confirm facts prior to spouting opinion as fact.

      • Nita

        I enjoyed your well written cited reply, but the condescending statement at the end made it lose major points! You basically only repeated what others have already stated, but you had to stick your arrogant chest out and invalidate others replies because you so eloquently provided a secondary source to support your opinion…. BRAVO!!! **clap, clap, clap** I cannot tolerate intellectual snobs.

    • Steve Penaloza

      what if it was your child being bullied by the teacher? How would you prove the teacher was inadequate to hold her position as a teacher? I am sure a conference with the school with no proof of what this teacher was doing would have been enough to have her removed would suffice, The teacher would have told the truth lost her job & pension because she finally realized how wrong she was.Whatever world you live in Marko must be dark & lonely, & that is a good thing, It means you probably wont breed.

    • Mimi

      I agree. We have a big problem with kids and adults not respecting rules or laws because their parents don’t allow them to face the consequences for breaking the rules or laws.

    • Carlos

      So ur saying if ur kid is been bully by a teacher he or she should just shut up n learn that been bully is just life ur ignorant goes way far

  • Mimi

    I don’t think the teacher should have been fired but put on some kind of unpaid leave. Everyone makes mistakes and says things that they regret later and who knows, maybe there was some serious stress going on in this teacher’s personal life. If it’s against the law to record someone without their knowledge, then of course the student should be suspended.

    • muchris

      If the teacher had that much stress where they’d say that to a student…..then they shouldn’t be a teacher!


      If the student hadn’t recorded the teacher’s misbehavior it would have gone undetectected. In today’s politically correct world no school administration wants the world to know about something that they would like to sweep under the carpet.

  • Deb Tharas

    Poor girl thinks she is doing something right and gets suspended. I hope this doesn’t keep her from helping others!!!

  • Amanda Marie

    OK. Wow. Class of 20+ maybe 30+ students could never constitute privacy. I’m feeling dumbfounded. Poor little girl was so brave and smart to do this. She may have saved a life. Children take words to heart especially from an authority figure, an authority figure whom the other students would not stand up to. Children are taught to obey these such persons and this little girl should be rewarded for standing up for her classmate. #JusticeforBriannaCooper #RewardBrianna #BraveBrianna

  • JenniferSLCC

    I think it’s smart of the girl to record the teacher. The teacher has probably done it before and this time wanted to actually get proof of the teacher doing it. Having her suspended was kind of wacky. Yah it was illegal but very helpful because teachers shouldn’t act like that and who knew how long this could have been going on.

  • David

    So wait, the recording was legal enough for the school to fire the teacher. If it was an illegal recording, the teacher should be able to sure the school for inappropriate termination. I think that school board needs to reexamine their policies.

  • Billy

    Not illegal if you just happen to have your recorder on and idiot teacher starts running mouth in background.

  • Max

    Since when do you have an expectation of privacy in public? Ones body is one thing. Their public actions are another. Pathetic.

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