Students sue school for social Web-related discipline

By Anne Collier

The two Indiana girls who, during a sleepover before their sophomore year started this fall, posted some sexually suggestive photos in a MySpace profile set to private, thought of it as a joke among friends, says the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit on the girls’ behalf. “The suit contends that someone copied the pictures and shared them with school officials, and they eventually were given to the principal,” the Washington Post reports. “None of the photos made any reference to the school,” it adds. The girls, athletes, were suspended from all “all extracurricular activities for the year” at first, but the school later “reduced the penalty to 25% of fall semester activities after the girls completed three counseling sessions and apologized to the coaches board.” The school’s attorney “said [the principal] was enforcing the northeast Indiana school’s athletic code, which allows the principal to bar from school activities any student-athlete whose behavior in or out of school “creates a disruptive influence on the discipline, good order, moral or educational environment at Churubusco High School.” Do you think the school’s definition of “material disruption” (of students’ ability to learn, a test that has been used in a number of cases involving student free speech and off-campus behavior in social media) is too broad? Your comments welcome, via email (anne[at] or, better, posted in our forum.

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