First Amendment Rights for Students on FB and MySpace?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Students have been complaining about their teachers and principals, probably since the first schoolhouses opened. But in the Internet age, it's easy for students broadcast their frustrations publicly via social networks, and courts are now having to step in and define whether their online back talk is protected free speech.

An appeals courts in Pennsylvania sided with the students last week, in cases involving a male student disparaging his prinicipal’s body, and a female student who made lewd sexual remarks about her principal. How far should students be able to go when expressing themselves on social networking sites and should the schools be getting involved?

David Hudson Jr., a scholar at the First Amendment Center and author of "Let the Students Speak! A History of the Fight for Free Expression in American Schools," says the cases will likely go to the Supreme Court. Mark Wilson, principal of Morgan County High School in Georgia, thinks this issue is reflective of our participation in democracy and is a teachable moment for his students.


David Hudson Jr. and Mark Wilson

Produced by:

Jen Poyant

Comments [2]

Paul from White Plains

"Fifties to Sixties"
In 1957, as editor-in-chief of my high-school newspaper in an NYC suburb, I wrote an editorial critical of a school policy and, as a result, was summarily dismissed from my position.
Ten years later, as a twenty-something non-tenured teacher and faculty adviser to the newspaper in another Westchester district, I received a letter from the principal expressing his "displeasure" at a student's critical article. I went to bat for the student, citing the First Amendment. Neither of us lost his job.

Jun. 22 2011 10:51 AM
Mordecai Christi from Boston

Westboro Baptist Church...

...discipline outside of the 'House of God' ?

The tried-and-true 'fire in a crowded theatre'.

How can these be compared?
Real life examples? Emotional distress? Free-speech? Youth development of ideals, personal identity and responsibility? Empathy?

Where do they end and we begin?

Jun. 22 2011 09:59 AM

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