Judge rules students dismissed for Facebook photo can return to school

By: Arianna Poland

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren ordered yesterday that the college must reinstate four nursing students who were dismissed last November. The students now may enroll for the spring 2011 semester.

Doyle Byrnes, a nursing student at the college since 2006, and three other students were dismissed for posting pictures of themselves posing with a human placenta on their Facebook pages. According to The Pitch, when asked by an instructor to remove the Facebook photo, the students did so, removing the photo the same day it was posted. The next day the students were seen by JCCC Nursing Director Jeanne Walsh, who told them they were being dismissed from the program. They were informed they would be able to apply for readmission in the fall. However, Byrnes, who is engaged and expecting to graduate in May, has already made plans to get married in August and move to Virginia. She decided to take the college to court in an effort to become reinstated.

Byrnes said she took the photo because she was trying to convey her excitement for studying the placenta. Walsh said she thought the smiling photo of Byrnes with the placenta was offensive and lacked professionalism.

JCCC President Terry Calaway said in a statement yesterday that he considered the matter closed, although he was disappointed with the judge’s order to reinstate the students. Byrnes said she didn’t think she did anything wrong.

Byrnes and the other students will be allowed to take their final exams from the fall 2010 semester.

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