Monday, August 29, 2011
An Indiana school district might appeal a summary judgment that said it violated two students' First Amendment rights by punishing them for posting racy photos to social networking sites, the district's lawyer said.
As schools and courts grapple with determining where a school's authority ends online, more First Amendment cases like this one will crop up, said Catherine Ross, a professor at The George Washington University Law School and author of the forthcoming "The Troubled First Amendment in Our Public Schools."
"Traditionally, one could talk about a kind of geographical analogy with speech in schools," Ross said. "It was fairly clear what speech took place in school and what speech took place out of school."
New tests are starting to emerge to determine whether online speech takes place "in" school, such as determining whether the person who created the speech made it available at school. Without such distinctions, "the school would become almost a police state that could reach out and discipline students for what they do anywhere," Ross said.
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