School Pays Up To Student Who Was Suspended Over His Web Site

from the money,-money,-money dept

A couple weeks ago, the net was buzzing with the story of a high school in New Jersey that was banning all blogging activity, claiming that this was necessary to protect the kids. Perhaps the folks at that school should take a look at the news coming out today in their home state. Two years ago, a New Jersey middle school suspended a kid for his website, which criticized the school. The student fought back, claiming his right to free speech was violated, since he had built the website completely outside of school. Now, the school has decided to settle the case and pay out $117,500 to the student for his troubles. While the school that banned blogging is a private Catholic school, which makes the case much less clear, you can bet some of the students at the school might be emboldened by this result to challenge the blogging ban (and maybe pay for some college tuition at the same time).

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Comments on “School Pays Up To Student Who Was Suspended Over His Web Site”

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Dom says:

I don't see the Problem

I went to Catholic high school, they are private schools which in a sense have their own laws. People pay to go there and in doing so say they will obey the rules set out by the school. My school blocked many different kinds of websites. The school isn’t saying the kids can’t use the sites outside of school, right? So, I don’t think there really is any discussion. The internet in schools is supposed to be used for educational purposes, and although it can be argued that blogs can have an educational purpose, more often then not blogs are just people’s opinions and would hold no ground in modern academia.

Dom says:

Re: I don't see the Problem

The only problem I see with what the school is asking is that they are trying to be the kids parents. If the students have MySpace accounts or something similar, and they created them at home. The school has no right to say they have to remove them. I am not opposed to the school blocking the sites from the school computers.

lar3ry says:

Re: Re: I don't see the Problem

I think you are right in that they are trying to make decisions that should be left up to the parents.

As a parent, I allow my children to use blogs, and I have no problem with it. However, I warn them: It’s stupid to write ANYTHING that can be used against you at any time, whether you delete it or not. You have no control over what people will quote, where it will be copied or cached. Things you post in haste today may haunt you in a few years when you are looking for a job and they decide to “google” your name and find out what you’ve been up to.

I think that this is a perfectly reasonable stance to take, and having been active on the Internet for quite a while, I think my decision is well-informed.

Now, if my kids’ school turns around and trumps MY decision over MY kids’ behavior in MY house, I will let that school know in no uncertain terms that they are infringing on MY rights as a parent. They have NO jurisdiction over the Internet.

bh says:

Re: Re: Re: I don't see the Problem

#1: If the students and parents signed a contract with a private school that the students will not engage in a certain behavior, at school or otherwise, and the student violates that contract with the help of a parent, the school can still claim breach of contract and expel the student. Many private universities do this very thing with an honor code.

#2: As a parent, I would NEVER let my minor child blog. While I respect your right to let your children blog, I find that children too often include details in their blogs that make it easy for predators to target them. Until they are old enough to be responsible for their own protection, they have no right to use MY equipment and MY internet connection to post their musings online.

Matt says:

Re: I don't see the Problem

Um buddy, freedom of speach is a right that we are born with private school or not they have no right to infinge on your constitutional rights. Let the school get away with that and our forefathers wasted their lives for you. I for one am happy to hear of a student nailing it to the school.

FireMonkey says:

Re: Re: I don't see the Problem

Uhhh… it’s been upheld in several courts that Public School students’ rights ARE legally compromised once they enter the school. Any Principal can search your locker, your car, your book bag, with or withour your permission.

These kids DID write their blogs outside of the Private school’s “jurisdiction” (for lack of a better term), but they all had previously signed (along with their parents) an agreement that prevented them from engaging in the activities in question. The question is not wether they broke an agreement or law, it’s wether the agreement is legally enforcable. As ridiculous as I think the whole situation is, I’d bet that they remain in hot water.

someone247356 says:

Re: I don't see the Problem

You said;
“The school isn’t saying the kids can’t use the sites outside of school, right?”

Actually they are. They school is banning the students from maintaining personal blogs anywhere, from any computer at any time. Even if they use their own computer at home and never visit the site from school.

That’s generally the problem with things like this. The school thinks that they control the actions of their students even when they aren’t in school or doing anything that is connected to the school. A good rule of thumb is that the schools authority over a child’s behaviour extends no further than the school grounds.

Since this is a _private_ school. The school isn’t acting as the government, and the parents sign a contract and pay for their kids to be there. If they don’t like the policy, they are free to pull their kids from the school. Doesn’t make it any better, just more legal.

Just my $0.02 (Canadian, before taxes)

Sophie says:

Re: I don't see the Problem

I totally agree about it during school but I go to a private boarding school and it is still all blocked after school too which seems a bit silly to me seeing as they say they want to make it as home-like as possible when they don’t give us internet access or wireless after school which is possible to block certain websites if they wish. All we want is myspace, bebo and msn – so we can talk to people in the outside world!!

Dom says:

Re: No Subject Given

Eh… nothing will come of it. Most catholics I know and have met live in their own little World and will worhsip and obey anything the Chruch says. Another reason I don’t consider myself Catholic anymore.

Isn’t that the point of being affiliated with a religion? To obey the rules that they set forth? And worshipping everything the Church says? The only thing the Church says to “worship” is God.

Chuck says:


Schools trying to ban outside of school activity?……..things never change. People of the USA….please take back this country from the opressors of freedom….namely Schools and Universities of any type. What is next? Remember this….if someone whats to suppress it……no matter what the activity… is a violation of the rights all Americans hold dear. Fight them where it hurts the most…….IN THEIR WALLETS.

TK says:

Banning Blogs

As a teacher it irks the living heck out of me when schools blanket ban access to certain things. I used blogs in my curriculum all last year. Guess what happened? Kids WROTE on a daily basis. They communicated clearly in a format that is becoming a more and more acceptable communication portal. They reflected. They used critical thinking and communicated their ideas. They even, GASP, became ENGAGED in the curriculum! Was this an IT course? Nope! It was sophomore health and every student signed up for a blog, read my blog each day for the day’s blog assignment, and replied in theirs. When I was absent I was able to communicate clearly with them from home.

I’m at a different school this year where blogs are banned. In the previous school, blogs have been banned. Why? “Because there’s bad stuff on there, you know!” was the reason I was given when I fought the ban last year. Well we don’t lock the library so students don’t see the bad books! Before long there will be no point to having Internet access in schools because everything will be blocked in an effort to “protect” our students.

I’m seriously considering voting no on the next tech levy in the district I live in and sending a letter telling them why. Computers need to be used for more than just Microsoft Office. As a teacher who strives to use a variety of technologies to reach my students, I’m having my hands tied over and over again by people who are NOT teachers and have no business making decisions that impact teaching and learning without teacher input.

someone247356 says:

Watch out for laws protecting business methods

Let tech protect us from tech sounds like a nice idea, but just like DVD
players, and self crippled CD-ROMish discs, don’t forget the ability of
corporate dollars to make any such technological self-help illegal.

Sony can install a root-kit in your PC and it’s all good, but try to
back up your kids Disney DVD and you just might find yourself in prison.

You have to agree to the EULA before you can use the game, but if you
disagree good luck getting your money back.

Rest assured, if it isn’t simply illegal to defective the RFID tags in
your retail merchandise, it will void your warranty, and render it
nonreturnables, even if defective.

Think about it, the US feds have suggested adding an optically scanned
key to read the RFID data in your new improved passport. Umm, if they
need to optically scan it anyway, why does it need to be RFID? (Make
sure your tinfoil hat is properly fastened with the shinny side out
before contemplating that one. )

Just my $0.02 (Canadian, before taxes)

Angry Student in Georgia thats been through it all says:


Adults control way too much. I dont understand why they have to think that students cant do something about what is going on on our own. Yes we know that there is a problem. Some of us like the problem because it pisses off our parents…but some of us dont. I understand some kids like to do rowdy things (thats why they call us FUCK-CHOPS!!!) and SOME PARENTS dont like to accept that. But hey You parents were fuck-chops once…we know you were!!! Youve all done such a great job as parents that we can still see it in you. I personally think that this whole myspace and online censorship just because some of those people are your kids. WE KNOw How to stop the issue you just got to learn how to stop trying to do it for us. And the little girls and guys that get hurt by older guys are doing this most likely because of a personal mishap between the father and or mother in their past. GO to a psychiatrist he will tell you that straight up! Kids these days are smarter than you so just admit it and let us deal with our own FUCKING Problems!!! Hell soon enough your going to be unable to make your own decisions you’d better give us time to start practicing making our very own decisions because we will be making yours SOON!!!! SO in conclusion…Back DA Fuck up!

Deneen Spinella says:

School Pays Up To Student Who Was Suspended Over H

Can someone please email me more information about this case. My daughter attended E.D. White Catholic School and the same thing happened to her. She was given an Academic Suspension and stripped of all her titles, which could have destroyed her at the college she plans to attend. I need the case caption and docket number if you know it, so that I can educate myself more before taking further action. Please help if you can. Thanks.

Anonymous Coward says:

School Pays Up To Student Who Was Suspended Over H

Can someone please email me more information about this case. My daughter attended E.D. White Catholic School and the same thing happened to her. She was given an Academic Suspension and stripped of all her titles, which could have destroyed her at the college she plans to attend. I need the case caption and docket number if you know it, so that I can educate myself more before taking further action. Please help if you can. Thanks.

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