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Saint Marys University of Minnesota

Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs

EDUW 695

Ethics and Issues in Education

Fall, 2016

Stevens Point

T. Vechinski

Debate Assignment

Off- Campus Online Speech

Off-Campus Online Speech T. Vechinski

Can schools punish?

Yes No

When legitimate threats to safety When threats are not viable

are made When the action does not disrupt the
When action disrupts the learning learning mission and environment
mission and environment When words initiate off campus
When vulgar, lewd, and offensive When school devices are not used
language is used to damage a Based on previous cases and court
reputation/career decisions
Based on previous cases and court
When violating the schools code of
moral conduct*

*Private schools may have specific codes that students sign and are expected to abide by


Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University

Case Analysis; Bell v Itawamba County School Board

Center for Digital Education; Converge

Can Schools Punish Students for Off-Campus Online Speech?
Calvert, January 2016

The George Washington University Law School

Bitch, Go Directly to Jail: Student Speech and Entry into the School to Prison Pipeline
Ross 2016
There have been several cases where students have been punished by schools for using, or

misusing, their First Amendments Rights; the freedom of speech. Cases that are similar have had

different outcomes. Local policies can be confusing and in many schools and districts are still

being developed. Growing technology has challenged school officials when it comes to matters

of students freedom of expression. The Supreme Court has yet to hear a case or make a

decision on this matter in the current digital age. Perhaps this will happen soon since this issue

will not be going away considering the continuing advancement of technology. It could be

beneficial to intervene with definite answers as to whether inappropriate social media will be

protected under free speech rights. A decision should be made so students know before they text

or post what the law of the land is.

Justin was a 17 year old high school student who interrupted the learning environment with

his use of lewd and vulgar speech. There is no protection under the Frist Amendment for lewd,

vulgar, and offensive speech. He was punished.

J.C. was an eighth grader whose activity did not interrupt the learning environment, according

to the courts. She made an effort to keep her message private, and that fact appears to be an

important reason why she was not punished.

My concern is that of student attendance. Attendance has a direct correlation to student

learning and overall academic success. When students are suspended, they lose instruction time

in the learning environment; we take away their opportunity to learn which affects their future in

a big way. Out of school suspensions diminish the chance of academic success and add to

truancy issues. When students are not in school they are often involved in risky behavior. When

these kids do come to school it is often difficult for them to stay on track to graduate. Many
experts feel that out of school suspensions are not effective in changing behavior. What a shame

to take our kids out of the learning environment with no positive gain whatsoever. I feel that our

students should be in school if at all possible. Perhaps in-school suspensions can be more


Safety is of outmost importance. My guess is that cyberbullying is what will get the Supreme

Court involved. Social media is used for many reasons, but viable personal threats cannot be

tolerated. This is a situation where a student should be removed from the school.