by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 9th 2009 9:59pm
We've had a number of different stories over the years about students making use of social networks to make fun of or taunt teachers, principals and administrators -- which often ended with schools disciplining those students. However, for years, courts have held that schools have no right to discipline students for speech that occurs off-campus. The Supreme Court muddied the waters on this issue recently in its decision on the "Morse case," better known as the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, where a student was disciplined for unfurling a banner with that phrase on it at a school-sponsored Olympic torch rally. The Supreme Court indicated that the fact that the event was school-sponsored gave the school the right to discipline the students -- but that's opening up plenty of questions in two separate cases in the same circuit where it looks like judges are somewhat split on the issue (via Michael Scott). The key issue, of course, is what constitutes a school-related event. If students are passing out the info on such fake social networking websites to classmates, is it school sponsored? That seems to be the claim some administrators are making, saying that if it influences activities at the school, then the school can discipline the students. With so many different opinions, it seems almost certain that this issue is going to show up a lot more before the courts finally settle the matter.
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