Federal appeals court ruling affirms students’ off-campus First Amendment rights

A cheerleader posted a Snapchat with the caption “f*** cheer.” A Pennsylvania federal appeals court said the school violated her First Amendment rights when they kicked her off the team. (Flickr / Patrick Feller CC by 2.0)

PENNSYLVANIA — A high school student was kicked off the cheerleading team for cursing the team on Snapchat. She filed a lawsuit. A federal appeals court's ruling is a major step toward securing First Amendment rights for students in person and online when they’re off campus. In B.L. v. Mahanoy Area School District, the Third Circuit… Continue reading Federal appeals court ruling affirms students’ off-campus First Amendment rights

U. of Tulsa administrator threatens to punish student journalists for investigating student’s punishment over Facebook posts

When George “Trey” Barnett was suspended from the University of Tulsa without a disciplinary hearing for violating the institution’s harassment policy and for sharing information about his pending disciplinary case, he asked the student newspaper to investigate.

Civil liberties groups call on Tenn. school district to revise 'unconstitutional' tech policy

A Tennessee school district’s technology and internet policy, which allows school administrators to examine electronic devices students bring from home and monitor communications or data transmitted on the district’s network, violates students’ rights to free speech and protection against “suspicionless searches,” The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in a letter to the district Monday.

Student’s “lewd” video about teacher provokes errant Wisconsin ruling applying “online harassment” law

Can derogatory remarks about a teacher be both constitutionally protected speech and also punishable as harassment?A Wisconsin appeals court appears to believe so.The Wisconsin Supreme Court is being asked to take up the case of "Kaleb K.," a 15-year-old student from Stevens Point, Wisc., who was arrested after posting a homemade rap on YouTube filled with profane, degrading language about his Spanish teacher.In September 2012, a juvenile-court judge declared Kaleb delinquent on the grounds of violating state criminal statutes against disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a computer communications system.In a ruling last November, the state Court of Appeals threw out the disorderly conduct charge, finding that Kaleb's lyrics, though distasteful, were not threatening, obscene or otherwise outside the boundaries of the First Amendment.But the court then went on to uphold the conviction under the state's computer-harassment law, which makes it a misdemeanor if a speaker "sends a message to [a] person on an electronic mail or other computerized communication system" that contains lewd or profane language "with the intent to harass, annoy, or offend."It's possible to harass someone even with a constitutionally protected message if the speech is delivered in an especially harassing manner.