Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) Three public school students were suspended for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War.
Morse v. Frederick (2007) A senior displayed a banner that read ‘BONG HiTS 4 JESUS’ during a Winter Olympics torch relay. Students had been released from class for the relay. The sign was unfurled off school property.
Beussink v. Woodland R-IV School District (1998) Student suspended for creating a personal web site at his home. The web site denigrated a school administrator using vulgar, but not defamatory language.
CIPA – Children’s Internet Protection Act Federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers.
CIPA – Children’s Internet Protection Act Imposes certain types of requirements on any school or library that receives funding for Internet access or internal connections from the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries.
Requirements Imposed by CIPA Schools must have an Internet safety policy must include technology protection measures to block or filter Internet access to pictures that are: (a) are obscene, (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors)
Requirements Imposed by CIPA Schools must certify that they are educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including cyberbullying awareness and response and interacting with other individuals on social networking sites and in chat rooms.
Requirements Imposed by CIPA Schools must adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities of minors.
Schools must adopt and implement a policy addressing:
access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;
the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications;
unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online;
unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and
restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act In a nutshell: applies to the online collection of personal information from children under 13. It applies to web sites, these are not school requirements.
When Can School Districts Intervene? In summary, courts generally support First Amendment rights to free expression.
HOWEVER, certain expressions ARE NOT PROTECTED:
Free Expression That IS NOT Protected: If it substantially or materially disrupts learning
Definition of ‘Substantial Disruption’ Necessary cessation of instruction or educational activities
Definition of ‘Substantial Disruption’ Inability of students or educational staff to focus on learning or function as an educational unit because of a hostile environment
Definition of ‘Substantial Disruption’ Severe or repetitive disciplinary measures are needed in the classroom or during educational activities
Definition of ‘Substantial Disruption’ Exhibition of other behaviors by students or educational staff that substantially interfere with the learning environment
Free Expression That IS NOT Protected: If it utilizes school-owned technology to harass
Free Expression That IS NOT Protected: If it threatens other students or infringes on their civil rights
‘ The best way for a school district to protect its students and protect itself from legal liability is to have a clear and comprehensive policy regarding bullying and harassment, technology, and their intersection: cyberbullying.’ Hinduja & Patchin (2009) What Can School Districts Do?
Bottom Line “… best way for a school district to protect its student & protect itself from legal liability is to have a clear & comprehensive policy regarding bullying & harassment, technology & their intersection: cyberbullying.” Hinduja & Patchin, 2009