The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a set of cases for the digital age—whether schools may censor students who are off-campus when they create online attacks against school officials and other students.
The court let stand the suspension of a West Virginia high school’s “Queen of Charm,” who created a web page that suggested another student had a sexually transmitted disease and then invited classmates to comment.
The court also left alone rulings that said schools could not discipline two Pennsylvania students for MySpace parodies of their principals that the students created at home. An appeals court, following 40-year-old case law on student free speech, said the posts did not create substantial disruptions at school.
Lawyers on both sides were disappointed that it will be at least another year before the high court wades into the issue. Federal judges have issued a broad range of opinions on the subject, which has muddied the waters for school administrators as they consider whether it’s appropriate to discipline students for such online transgressions.
“We’ve missed an opportunity to really clarify for school districts what their responsibility and authority is,” said Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. “This is one of those cases where the law is simply lagging behind the times.”