Friday, February 5, 2010

Disorder in the Court

Yesterday, two different federal appellate court panels issued conflicting rulings on school officials' right to discipline students for Internet postings made from home.

The cases are very similar, but the rulings are just the opposite, according to ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak, who represents both students. Each student put mocking and sexually explicit material on the Internet with reference to a principal.

In the case from Mercer County, the appellate court upheld a lower court ruling that the school cannot limit a student's speech outside school. A different 3-judge panel upheld a student's suspension in Schuykill County.

Walczak says it's reasonable to restrict speech at school but not to limit a student's right to free speech outside school, where it's the parents' right to decide whether a child's behavior is appropriate or not.

Either side may seek further legal review.

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