“The plaintiffs in this case are all 14-year-old girls, proceeding by their initials, who were previously enrolled as eighth graders at Griffith Middle School, which is operated by Griffith Public Schools. In late January, they engaged in a lengthy conversation on http:// http://www.facebook.com-through the comments section of one of their personal pages after school from their personal computers. This conversation spanned numerous subjects, from the pain of cutting oneself while shaving to the girls’ friendship, before turning to a discussion of which of their classmates they would kill if they had the chance. At all times, the conversation was purely in jest and could not have been interpreted seriously, as is evidenced by the girls’ repeated use of “emoticons,” by their use of abbreviations indicative of humor, and by the nature and tone of the conversation. The girls were simply engaged in teenage banter.Nonetheless, on January 26, 2012, all three (3) girls were suspended from school for ten (10) days as a result of this conversation, and they were ultimately expelled for the remainder of their eighth grade year. This disciplinary action occurred because they had supposedly violated a provision of the student handbook prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation, even though no statement in the conversation-nor the conversation as a whole–constituted a “true threat.” Additionally, the conversation did not cause any disruption to the educational environment or to school activities, nor was it foreseeable that it would.”
Glory be and Halleluiah!
The ACLU is finally girding itself for battle over the increasingly common practice of schools punishing students for out-of-school, personal speech and the expression of opinions. It was 18 months ago when Ethics Alarms first expressed its opposition to schools believing they have any say regarding what a student expresses on-line, how or to whom. Thanks to hysterical parents and a sensationalizing media, over-broad interpretations of “bullying” have provided a wormhole for intrusive school administrators to extend their reach into students homes and minds, usurping free speech and parental authority in the process..
It is wrong, it is an abuse of power, and is itself bullying…and it has to stop,
Seldom has the ACLU been more welcome.
Pointer: Marc Randazza
Facts and Graphic: ACLU
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