It often seems like school officials are waging a war on the first amendment. Only recently, school officials in Alaska prevailed in the “Bong hits 4 Jesus” case, a major rollback of student rights and free speech interests. Now, school officials are seeking to extend their reach not only to public demonstrations like the Alaskan case but the Internet and extracurricular speech. Avery Doninger, a student as the Lewis S. Mills High School in Connecticut is being punished for calling school officials a name on the Internet and saying that an administrator is “pissed off.” She appears to be right, they barred her from serving in a student government position because they do not like what she writes at home. Now there is a valuable lesson — it just belongs to a different political system.
Lewis S. Mills High School officials are peeved over Doninger’s complaints about their canceling the school’s annual Jamfest or battle of the bands. She had helped coordinate the event and said that “‘Jamfest’ is canceled due to douchebags in central office.”
It would seem an easy case of over-reaching by school officials, but U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz, sided with the school and said that it could monitor extracurricular statements and punish students for such statements. It is not up to the Court of Appeals.
If upheld, this would constitute another blow to student speech rights. While the Supreme Court has said that students do not leave their rights at the schoolhouse gate, it seems that fewer and fewer rights make it past the door. For a prior case, click here
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