Sunday, February 21, 2010

Student Speech

Mark Walsh, over at the School Law Blog, writes about a recent decision by a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Florida regarding student speech on social networking media. The Magistrate Judge's Decision, found here, notes that the young plaintiff, Ms. Evans, posted a non-threatening, non-harassing message on Facebook after school hours from her home computer.

The defendant, the Principal of Evans' school, learned of the posting and suspended Evans for three days, and forced the young lady out of her Advanced Placement classes. Evans sued seeking injunctive relief that included removal of all mention of the disciplinary action, as well as nominal damages.

This decision will allow the suit to go forward.

I have always had a problem with school rules that impinge on a student's freedom of speech. True, to a certain extent, as minors, students aren't imbued with the same level of speech, certainly on campus during school hours. But how can we teach young people the meaning of the First Amendment, the rights AND responsibilities that come with the First Amendment, if we keep barring their language.

I think this is a good move and the case may help delineate what speech rights a student may have.

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