Teen name calling: Federal case

This is a story parents and teens should know about because it clearly illustrates how a student's mean comment in a public blog can literally become a federal case. US District Judge Mark Kravitz in Connecticut last week "ruled that Avery Doninger was outside her legal bounds when she used derogatory language on the Internet to describe school administrators," NBC TV in Burlington, Conn., reports. Last May Avery, then a junior, called school official "douchbags" (sic) in a blog post she wrote from her home. After the school stopped her from seeking re-election as her class secretary, he mother filed a lawsuit against two school district official saying they'd violated her daughter's right to free speech," the Hartford Courant reported. In his ruling, Judge Kravitz said school officials were within their rights "because Doninger's writing related to school and was likely to be read by other students" (see the last few paragraphs of the Courant's report for the two sides' arguments and the 1969 and 1986 cases they pointed to).
About this case, ConnectSafely.org Advisory Board member and youth officer Det. Frank Dannahey of the nearby Rocky Hill, Conn., Police Department wrote me, "I started using this incident in my programs when it occurred back in May. The community where this occurred is about 20 minutes away from where I work. It’s an interesting look at the never-ending saga of First Amendment rights vs. school systems' ability (or not) to discipline for out-of-school Internet postings." Here's an opinion piece about the case in the Hartford Courant.

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