Senior suspended 10 days for criticizing high school on home page challenges punishment

Student's Web site still online despite school's discipline

OHIO -- Clayton Telles let his creative juices flow over the World Wide Web, but their current landed him in the principal's office and, after being suspended, at home for a school-sponsored vacation.

The senior at Otsego High School in Otsego created a Web site,, from his home computer in October. The site features a guest book, chat room, satire of Otsego students and faculty, a "favorite Otsego teacher" poll and an "OtsegoSucks Store" offering T-shirts and mugs bearing "the official OtsegoSucks" logo. Principal Robert Nicholson suspended Telles for 10 days in late October after visiting the site upon the complaint of another student.

Under school policy, Telles appealed his 10-day suspension to school district authorities, but they upheld the punishment levied by Nicholson. Telles had the option to serve his suspension in a local juvenile detention center, which would allow him to continue his schoolwork. He chose instead to protest the suspension outright, missing 10-days of course work. He now wants the suspension removed from his educational record.

Telles secured the services of attorney Jeffrey Helmick in November. As the Report went to press, Helmick was still in the early planning stages of the case and offered no comment on the specific direction of the matter.

Nicholson did not return phone calls to his office by the Report.

Despite Nicholson's disapproval, is still up and running.

"The suspension has not made me make any significant changes to my site, even though they threatened to sue me if I left it up," Telles said.

Telles said he explored libel law and applicable case law before he created the site.

"I did consider that I would get in trouble for it at school because they do not believe in freedom," he said, "but I knew it was my right, protected by the Constitution, to have it."

reports, Winter 2000-01