Off-campus student tweeting deemed illegal

Students are finding themselves in trouble with school administrators as schools attempt to regulate social media sites sometimes at the expense of students’ free speech rights. Twenty students were suspended from McKay High School in Oregon for retweeting that a female teacher flirts with her students. The school considered the tweets to be cyberbullying. (Statesman Journal, March 13, 2014, by Laura Fosmire)

The American Civil Liberties Union called the suspensions a violation of the Oregon and  U.S. Constitutions. The ACLU claimed that because the students were off-campus when tweeting, they enjoyed the same First Amendment rights of any citizen. Legal experts were uncertain about whether the tweeting was cyberbullying, but one expert said that the tweets could be defamatory. (Statesman Journal, March 15, 2014, by Laura Fosmire)

Another high school student filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey after she was barred from graduation for tweeting that her principal was a “pussy ass bitch.” The administration had disciplined the student for an array of acts including illegal use of her cell phone, cursing and showing disrespect to teachers. But the parents claim that since the tweet was off-campus and did not cause disruption at school, their daughter should not have been punished. (Courthouse News Service, March 18, 2014, by Chris Fry)