NEWS

Minister reacts to Facebook expulsion

Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou attempted yesterday to defuse a row that has broken out over the expulsion of a junior high school pupil who criticized her principal on the Internet, although the government official accepted that Greece needs to update its laws to deal with such incidents. Diamantopoulou issued a statement after the girl, who was not named, was forced to leave her school in Hania, Crete, after starting a page on the Facebook social networking site under the title «I hate the principal at Chrysopigi [high school].» «The need for young people to express themselves and to vent their feelings is not only a given but is something that should be encouraged,» said Diamantopoulou. «But this should happen within a framework of respect for people and the smooth running of schools.» The minister chose her words carefully after an apparent groundswell of support for the expelled teenager both in the media and on the Internet. Following the announcement of the girl’s dismissal on Thursday, another Facebook page was launched, this time demanding that she be readmitted to Chrysopigi school. By last night, the page had close to 10,000 members. This came after the Hania school inspector, Nikos Vestakis, said that the school should have invited the pupil and her parents for talks and not expelled her. Diamantopoulou did not indicate whether she thought the school was right to dismiss the teenager but made it clear that Greece needs to update its laws to keep up with technology. «The rapid developments in technology and in communication and the need to modernize our rules mean that we have to approach new challenges with seriousness and responsibility.»