A U.S. judge okayed suspensions for five high school students who “liked” or commented on racist images on another student’s Instagram account that included nooses drawn around the necks of a black student and coach and comparisons of African-American women and students to gorillas, according to RT.
This took place in San Francisco.
Apparently schools can totally regulate student speech, even to the point of just “likes”.
U.S. District Judge James Donato said in his decision late Wednesday the five students contributed to disruption at Albany High School in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The judge rejected arguments that the Albany Unified School District violated the students’ free speech rights because the offensive posts were on a private account and made off campus.
The judge said the school was allowed to discipline students for speech that “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.”
“School officials do not have to wait for the disruption or invasion to take place; they may act prophylactically if it is reasonable under the circumstances,” Donato wrote in the ruling, adding that the targeted students “have the right to be free of online posts that denigrate their race, ethnicity or physical appearance, or threaten violence.”
C.E. had disabled the account as soon as he realized other students had seen it. Girls who saw it gathered in a hallway and were found “crying hysterically and talking loudly about the posts.”
They’re going to have issues in life if they don’t first find out what was behind the images.
The lawyer for one of the boys said many of the students who were suspended over the images were Asian and were just trying to shock each other.
“Taken out of that context, it definitely looks really bad,” he said.
The student – only known as C.E. – who established the private Instagram account was first suspended and then expelled.
The judge let a couple students off who did nothing but upheld the suspension for the other students and CE’s expulsion. He also denied a request to have the suspensions removed the the student’s permanent records.
“Some of the plaintiffs have tried to minimize their culpability by saying that their likes were made casually and thoughtlessly. But a plaintiff’s subjective state of mind is irrelevant,” Donato said in the ruling, adding that it only matters “whether the speech at issue interfered with the rights of other students to be secure and let alone.”
Attorney Darryl Dale Yorkey, who represents six of the students, said the ruling puts the First Amendment “under fire.”
“Where does the government’s ability to discipline you stop?” Yorkey told Courthouse News. “We live in a society where everyone has the entitlement not to be offended.”