Constitutional Law

Discipline Over Student's Facebook Comments Sparks Lawsuit

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A student who was suspended for three days by her former high school for criticizing an advanced-placement English teacher on her Facebook page is now suing her principal with the help of the ACLU.

Katherine Evans, 18, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., is now a college student. By filing a federal lawsuit over her First Amendment rights, however, she hopes to clear her disciplinary record, reports the Miami Herald. In addition to the three-day suspension, she was also removed from advanced-placement classes.

She was punished for what the principal called “bullying and cyberbullying harassment towards a staff member,” after describing the teacher, in a post that she removed after a few days, as “the worst teacher I’ve ever met” and inviting others to join her in expressing “hatred” toward the teacher.

“Student online speech is a prolific area of First Amendment litigation,” reports the Student Press Law Center in an article about the case.

“The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday in the case of Layshock v. Hermitage School District, in which a Pennsylvania school district is appealing a lower court’s ruling that the district violated a student’s First Amendment rights by suspending him for posting sarcastic comments mocking his principal on a MySpace page.”

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