Three Tennessee middle school students have been suspended from Highland Oaks Middle School in Memphis in the latest example of schools policing social media, a trend that I have criticized in the past. In this case, the students posted a mug shot of teacher Tiffany Jackson after she was arrested for driving on a suspended license. This is a publicly available photo and it is obvious why students would send it to each other on Instagram. Yet, the school suspended the students anyway.
Suspension for the re-posting of a public picture in my view is well beyond the proper purview of school officials. School officials however have responded that it was not technically the re-posting but “inappropriate use of electronic media” that was the basis for the suspensions (later reduced to one day).
Richardson told the station she did not think it fair her son was disciplined for re-posting a photo that was public record. The school says that the students “were using district computers — not personal cell phones — to access inappropriate websites and content not related to the lessons that day.”
I expect that students routinely stray in the use of such computers and do not receive suspensions. The motivating factor appears to be the specific picture involved in the incident. The students reportedly apologized and, with notice to the parents, that should have ended the matter in my view.
By the way, Ms. Jackson takes a very nice mug shot for an amateur arrestee.