A Lakeside High School student was charged Monday with creating a fake Facebook page that purported to show another student lied during a teacher's dismissal hearing.
Roger Corey Bonsant, 17, of the 700 block of Riverbend Drive in Martinez, surrendered at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office in Appling, said Capt. Steve Morris. Bonsant was released on $1,100 bond.
Earlier in the day, investigators obtained a warrant for a misdemeanor charge of criminal defamation, alleging that Bonsant set up a fake Facebook page "under another person's name and communicated false information which exposed another person to hatred, contempt and/or ridicule," Morris said.
Investigators pursued the charges after the guardian of 16-year-old Avery Hill filed a complaint with the sheriff's office. The complaint said the fake Facebook page, created after Hill testified during a Board of Education dismissal hearing against Lakeside teacher Margaret Mudrak, made it appear Hill had lied during his testimony.
Columbia County School Superintendent Charles Nagle said that because of threats Hill has been allowed to transfer to another high school in the county. He refused to say which school.
Mudrak, a veteran special education teacher and boys lacrosse coach, was fired after Lakeside officials say she helped her students cheat on tests and illegally changed their federally mandated Individual Education Plans.
Investigators believe Bonsant, with the knowledge of other Lakeside students who are now witnesses in the case, created the page to help Mudrak, Morris said.
Morris said investigators tracked the fake Facebook page to Bonsant after subpoenaing information from Facebook, which in turn led them to subpoena information from Hotmail. With that information, along with the statements of witnesses, investigators searched Bonsant's home, seized five personal computers and filed the defamation charge, Morris said.
In addition to charging Bonsant, the investigation exonerated Hill, Morris said.
"He had nothing to do with this. He had no knowledge before, during or after that this was created," Morris said.
Mudrak has appealed her firing, but a State Board of Education spokesman said no action has been taken yet.
"Hopefully, a lot of this can be brought to closure," Nagle said.
The school system has no plans to take any disciplinary action against Bonsant because the alleged offense took place off school property and when school was not in session, Nagle said.