USF Polytechnic Clears Student of Disciplinary Charges For Sending Critical Emails

December 16, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the troubles faced by University of South Florida Polytechnic student Michael Nacrelli. To bring you up to speed: Nacrelli, a Student Government senator, faced charges of "disruptive conduct" and "failure to follow instructions" last month following a series of emails criticizing student government on which he copied several of his fellow Senators, in spite of requests from a USF administrator that he not do so. (USF’s newspaper, The Oracle, gives a good rundown.) 

Fortunately, as Mary Toothman of The Ledger (Lakeland, Fl.) now writes, USF Polytechnic has cleared him of any potential disciplinary charges. As Toothman writes, Nacrelli had a state senator in his corner:

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, has kept an eye on the situation and attended Nacrelli’s meeting with [Dean of Students Jan] Lloyd in late November. Dockery just listened. The senator said in an email she is glad the situation did not escalate.

"I’m happy to see this situation resolved in a manner that ensures that students have the right to freely express their views, both at meetings or via electronic media," Dockery said. "Any other outcome could have had a chilling effect on student senators, and students in general, in relationship to their First amendment rights".

In a letter written Tuesday to Nacrelli, Lloyd said her investigation concluded that circumstances were "insufficient to warrant that a violation of the rules and regulations" of USF Poly had occurred.

As I wrote when FIRE learned of this case, the communications at issue in USF Polytechnic’s investigation appeared to be nothing more than the type of internal squabbles common in elected government bodies. It may be unpleasant at times for the parties involved, but such is life of a public officer. In the end, there was nothing to see here, and I’m glad USF Polytechnic has evidently come to the same conclusion.

Schools:  University of South Florida