We just recently talked about
the famous Tinker v. Des Moines
Supreme Court ruling that establishes that students have First Amendment rights. Apparently some schools still don't realize this. Thankfully, there are some organizations willing to step in and remind them when they get confused. The ACLU of Northern California and the Asian Law Caucus were apparently able to successfully convince a San Francisco high school to reverse a previous ruling
in which three students were suspended for posting some parody/joking blogs about some teachers:
In March, after students at a San Francisco high school posted parodies and irreverent memes from their home computers about teachers and school administrators on a Tumblr blog (“Teaches Pink Floyd for 3 Weeks; Makes Final Project Due In 3 Days”; “Nags Student Govt About Being On Task; Lags On Everything”), the principal dragged three students she suspected of creating the blog posts into her office and interrogated them at length. (The blog has since been taken down.) The principal then immediately suspended the students for three days, accusing them of bullying and disrupting school activities. The students were also barred from attending a school dance and prom, and even from walking with their classmates at graduation. In addition, the principal did not provide the students with an opportunity to resolve the concerns through a restorative justice approach prior to imposing the punishments, which disregards the School District’s prioritization of restorative justice as an alternative, when possible, to suspension and expulsion.
That seems like a pretty extreme reaction. When I was in high school, I actually remember doing something similar -- parodying the teacher -- in a paper for that teacher
. Thankfully, he had a sense of humor. But either way, this is something that tons of high school kids do all the time. And it's clearly protected speech. Once these groups contacted the school and explained the law, the school backed down:
After we contacted the San Francisco Unified School District, they took prompt action to investigate the matter and reverse the discipline. Although the students already missed three days of school, the suspensions have been removed from their records, and they’ll be dancing at prom, and walking with their classmates at graduation.
It's too bad it even needed to go that far. What's really disturbing in all of this is what the school officials are teaching kids. Joking and parody are key forms of education and creativity. It's too bad some schools still don't recognize that (or what the law actually says).