As teenagers often do, a high school senior was alone in her room at home having a conversation with a few friends on Twitter. She doesn’t like her school principal, and called him a few strong curse words.
Who would have known that school administrators were secretly monitoring these teenage social media exchanges? And who would have known that they would react to being disliked by a teenager by berating the student the following week, and barring her from her Senior Prom, her Senior Class Trip, and even from any participation in graduation activities? The administrators even went back into her Twitter account and located some comments in which the senior was asking her friends if they wanted to “smoke” with her. Interpreting this to be related to marijuana, the administrators also insisted she be drug tested. They claim all of the punishments are for the “protection” of other students at the High School.
The case raises major policy issues, and will give the Court an opportunity to provide some important guidelines for students and for school administrators: What protections do students have from government officials reaching into their personal lives, especially on matters based solely on things they say to each other? Have they lost their First Amendment rights because they are students? Do school officials even have such power under our state laws? I think not. Stay tuned for what the Court decides.
Here’s a link to the Courier-POST article from this morning about the case. http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20140318/NEWS01/303180039/Suit-Sterling-High-School-overstepped-bounds-girl-s-tweets-penalty?nclick_check=1