Student suspended for Web site sues school

ARKANSAS — A ninth-grade student filed a lawsuit againsthis school district Thursday for suspending him from the last10 days of classes because of what school officials called "inappropriate"Internet use.

Justin Redman’s suspension, along with a revocation of hisschool computer privileges for 18 months and required psychologicalcounseling before returning in the fall, was in response to aWeb site he created from his personal computer parodying ValleyView Junior High School’s official site. Redman’s suspension causedhim to miss his final exams, which led to him failing the ninthgrade.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed a lawsuitin federal court Thursday on behalf of Redman and his parents,saying his First Amendment rights were violated by the school.The ACLU is asking the court to allow Redman to make up the workhe missed over the summer, return for the 10th grade in the falland to have the incident erased from his record.

The Web site, which was posted May 7 and taken down May 15,"contained content critical of some of the school’s administrators,staff and four students, often vulgar and generally impolite,"according to the complaint.

At a June 13 school board meeting, where the Redmans appealedthe school’s punishment, board members upheld Valley View’s actionsdespite the warnings of an ACLU cooperating attorney who advisedboard members of court precedents siding against school-imposedcensorship of student Web pages.

Redman’s parents, Marty and Patricia Redman, said in a jointstatement that they needed outside legal help because they believedthe school overstepped its bounds.

"Although we as parents do not condone what Justin did,we also do not feel the school has the right to control or disciplinehim for what he does off school grounds — that job belongs tous," the Redmans said in the statement.