by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 19th 2008 12:56pm
Just about a month ago we wrote about a principal losing a lawsuit against some students for posting a fake MySpace page pretending to be the principal. However, in a different case, a court has ruled that a school has every right to suspend students for creating a fake MySpace page of a principal. The two cases are different in a few ways, as the first one involved the principal suing the student, rather than just suspending the student. That said, the ruling by the court in this case seems problematic, and I'd be surprised if it was upheld on appeal (assuming the student appeals). The Supreme Court's famous Tinker v. Des Moines case established the precedent that schools can't punish students for protected free speech -- especially if that speech takes place off of the school campus. The court said that other Supreme Court rulings applied over Tinker, but both of the cases it cites in support involve disruptive actions at school events. A MySpace page created at home doesn't seem to qualify. Either way, if the principal's intent was to get the pages hidden so people didn't talk about them, this resulting lawsuit seems to have created the opposite situation.
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