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Student Faces Expulsion for Blog Post

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the complaining-only-makes-things-worse dept.

1045

ThPhox writes "A student in the Plainfield School District in New Jersey is facing expulsion from the school district for a post made on his personal blog during non school hours. From the article: "A 17-year-old student who posted on his blog site that he was being bullied and threatened by the Plainfield School District will face an expulsion hearing this week, a local attorney said.""

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Dumbasses (5, Insightful)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399662)

A 17-year-old student who posted on his blog site that he was being bullied and threatened by the Plainfield School District will face an expulsion hearing this week

Well, if he wasn't being bullied by the school district before, he sure is now. They just proved his argument for him!

Re:Dumbasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399680)

Point. The administration jusy blew their own case.... if it ever gets in front of a jury.

Re:Dumbasses (5, Funny)

Rob_Warwick (789939) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399695)

In an unconfirmed report, the English teacher for this school has apologized saying that the school needed a better example of irony because the students just weren't getting it.

Mod parent up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399773)

He makes an excellent point

Re:Dumbasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399805)

What is wrong with teachers and principals these days? Why do they feel like they need to become bulli... Ahem... Authority figures to students? Frankly, if I ever saw one of these shitheads that seems to like to pick on kids, I'd walk up and kick him in the nuts... But that's just my opinion.

Probably was ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399664)

It was probably recommended by his english teacher. He was tired of the insipid, inane blather that this blogger was posting and he had the opportunity to make an example out of him.

Organizations behave like this... (3, Insightful)

jginspace (678908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399666)

...it's a good preparation for real life.

Re:Organizations behave like this... (4, Insightful)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399787)

No, it is real life. If this kid gets expelled, he's screwed.

Wasting money and time (5, Insightful)

tknn (675865) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399667)

Hopefully the school board settles quickly and cans the people. Last thing they want to do is lose all that money they are going to in a clear-cut 1st amendment case....

How exactly is this a 1st amendment case? (1)

Cranky Weasel (946893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399671)

I'm curious. Are school districts bound by the first amendment in the United States?

Re:How exactly is this a 1st amendment case? (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399677)

Yes they are. They are governmental organizations.

Re:How exactly is this a 1st amendment case? (3, Insightful)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399681)

yes and no.
Students have practically no rights when on the premises or using school resources. When off campus however is where the arguments are coming up these days- most would argue students are under normal law when not on school grounds or comitting crimes (making threats, etc) against the school, faculty or other students.

Re:How exactly is this a 1st amendment case? (5, Informative)

jginspace (678908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399765)

When off campus however is where the arguments are coming up these days

An example:

Yohnka said the courts have put strict limitations on students' freedom of speech within the schools. But districts need to be mindful of students' rights when they are outside the school, saying there are school districts overstepping their boundaries by trying to discipline students for behavior outside school hours.

A Pennsylvania student won a case that involved a suspension for his private blog that critiqued his principal's dress habits, speech and other matters.

"Ultimately the principal attempted to punish him, the kid ended up challenging the suspension," Yohnka said. "The court reversed the suspension saying essentially the kid had the right to comment in any way anyone else would outside of the school.

From: http://www.webstreetcafe.com/news/4_1_JO23_FREESPE ECH_S1.htm [webstreetcafe.com]

Everything he did he did outside of school. He used a computer from home. He used an account he created from home what was clear it was a personal activity," Yohnka said.

Re:How exactly is this a 1st amendment case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399682)

Everything [the public is allowed to know about] is bound by the constitution, with no exceptions. Especially schools, which are government organizations and the bill of rights was put there so the government couldn't take them away.

Re:How exactly is this a 1st amendment case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399691)

Public Schools, yes, as they are technically government organizations.
Private Schools, no, as they count as businesses.

Depends... (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399737)

(a)how much do the student's parents file on their 1040 and (b) how prominent are they in local politics (ie how aware are the school administration of (a)?)?

In all seriousness while you might want want to think that was entirely a grim joke. It makes a LOT of difference. This might be especially enlightening for those of you from outside the USA about just how stratefied US society really is. The higher income your family is in american school pre-college (and at college at some private esp. ivy league) the better you get treated by teachers and administrative staff, and the better grades you get.

American Primary and Secondary Education are the ugly fascist underbelly of american society designed to help the rich get richer and make the poor poorer.

Re:Depends... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399826)

What's wrong with this? Rich people are actually good for the economy, while poor people are a liability. It's only fair that society would favour rich people.

Re:How exactly is this a 1st amendment case? (1, Informative)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399798)

I'm curious. Are school districts bound by the first amendment in the United States?

If the district accepts ANY money from the federal government, yes.

LK

Re:Wasting money and time (1, Insightful)

Soporific (595477) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399788)

Which one of you cretins modded this a troll?

~S

Hilarious (4, Insightful)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399669)

What's hilarious about that is where I live, in the SF Bay Area, a student can basically walk into class and beat the crap out of his teacher and still not get expelled.

Expel more people, I say. The pendulum needs to swing back the other way a little bit.

Re:Hilarious (2, Informative)

fizzfaldt (917641) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399797)

"a student can basically walk into class and beat the crap out of his teacher and still not get expelled"

A similar situation happened in my school.
A fight broke out between two students and the teacher held one back.
The student turned around. He looked at the teacher, paused to recognized him, and then elbowed him in the face.
He knocked out a couple of the teacher's teeth. This caused the first (and only) day this teacher ever missed a class in his 35+ year career.

The student was not expelled. In fact, IIRC the student was only punished for the fight with the student. Elbowing the teacher was not brought up.

The teachers responded with a strike, and some students staged a walkout to support them.
(Of course the rest of the students then walked out to have a day off.)


If the student was violent, or at least made actual (or veiled) threats to the school or otherwise I could understand the punishment.
As it is, I disagree with their punishment of the student for his posts online.
The information garnered from TFA didn't sound like there was any threat at all.
Unfortunately it seems that we have too many school officials (and this carries on into politics) who are too scared of anyone who doesn't conform.
'What if the threat was real and I did nothing about it?'
They start to see threats that aren't even there.
Anyone who is a little different starts to set of these alerts in their heads; he simply brought himself to the attention of some of these people.

I imagine the school in question doesn't really foster free thinking and speech.
Perhaps if it did, he wouldn't have felt it necessary to post what he did online.
(That was the point if I understood the article.)

Friendly piece of advice (-1, Flamebait)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399670)

He should get an AK-47 and shoot them into their filthy faces.

That's the only language that they understand.

Re:Friendly piece of advice (3, Funny)

Romancer (19668) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399700)

You're expelled.

Re:Friendly piece of advice (2, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399745)

*Bang*
*Bang* *Bang*

That feels good!

Re:Friendly piece of advice (3, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399734)

He should get an AK-47 and shoot them into their filthy faces.

The worst is that I feel you

Re:Friendly piece of advice (1)

porkface (562081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399747)

This is why we can't have nice guns

Re:Friendly piece of advice (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399777)

This is why we can't have nice guns

A well-placed homemade bomb will do the job just as nicely.

Re:Friendly piece of advice (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399835)

Yep. Every annoying law can be traced back to some jerk who had to ruin it for the rest of us. Nice going, jerks.

Re:Friendly piece of advice (2, Interesting)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399755)

I read from TFA:

...Did you ever stop to think this will start a community backlash? The kids at Columbine did what the did because they were bullied. ...

I thought to myself: yeeeesh, bad analogy warning.

Then I came and read your post, and suddenly I was very nervous.

Re:Friendly piece of advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399795)

This just in: new findings suggest causative link between blogging and high-school shootings. Could YOUR school be the next Columbine?

thats all right (4, Insightful)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399678)

we weren't using our rights anyways........ dot dot dot

Nothing New (5, Insightful)

slifox (605302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399683)

This is nothing new. Most schools, even in areas that are highly "liberal," try to control their students' thoughts and actions to the point of extreme.

Illinois state law says that schools are allowed to act in the best interest of a student, as a parent when the parent is not around (ie, during school days). It does not say schools can discipline students for their thoughts and actions outside of school and not during school time. However, schools are taking it upon themselves to do this regardless.

I find depriving a student of his 1st ammendment rights or his education not in his "best interest."

This must stop. The only way it will happen is having cases like this go to court, and schools finally exposed for what they are doing.

Re:Nothing New (-1, Flamebait)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399726)

I find depriving a student of his 1st ammendment rights or his education not in his "best interest."

He's not being deprived of his right to free speech, he's learning an important lesson about being responsible for his public statements. He has a right to say what he wants; they have a right to kick him out. No one is depriving either of them of either right. It's like how I have the right to post this and you have the right to call me an idiot and some other guy has the right to mod me "Overrated". Maybe it would be nicer if they just let this kid stay in school and maybe it would be nicer if people modded me "Insightful", but it's not a violation of anyone's rights.

Re:Nothing New (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399742)

He's not being deprived of his right to free speech, he's learning an important lesson about being responsible for his public statements. He has a right to say what he wants; they have a right to kick him out.

No, they don't.

The First Amendment, as extended through the Fourteenth and interpreted by the Supreme Court, bars government institutions from punishing or rewarding anyone on the basis of almost all speech. Note that the school in question is a public school, and thus is a government institution and bound by that law.

Re:Nothing New (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399853)

Actually, public schools are generally local government institutions - and so should be completely unaffected by the constitutional ban on federal laws restricting the freedom of speach.

That is, right up until the moment they accept federal funding...

Re:Nothing New (2, Insightful)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399767)

If free speech can't be used without fear of punishment, then it isn't really a right, is it?

Re:Nothing New (0)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399834)

This is nothing new. Most schools, even in areas that are highly "liberal," try to control their students' thoughts and actions to the point of extreme.

I think you meant ESPECIALLY in areas that are highly "liberal".

Evan Coyne Maloney [brain-terminal.com] details a case where a student on a liberal campus was theatened with expulsion for "hate speech" because they didn't like the "Ellen" series finale.

LK

Re:Nothing New (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399856)

I think you meant ESPECIALLY in areas that are highly "liberal".

Wingnut hogwash [salon.com] .

Evan Coyne Maloney details a case where a student on a liberal campus was theatened with expulsion for "hate speech" because they didn't like the "Ellen" series finale.

Your link is long on snipets but very short on details and context. And thus, worthless.

Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399692)

As much as it's good to post in public, which is the whole point because sharing is natural and a relief (and fun), we must protect our identity while being able to complain louder and more specifically. Use anonymizers and forms of encryption if relevant to reveal yourself in the way you want to and don't say something stupid like the article's mention of a specific bomb threat.

Free speech (0)

SniperClops (776236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399694)

What happened to free speech

Re:Free speech (1)

Admiral Justin (628358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399708)

Free Speech! Get it now! Only 37 payments of $1999.99 per month!

Seriously, those little admendment thingies that orbit the constitution have gone up in smoke, the smoke of the consitution itself after it was rolled up.

Re:Free speech (1)

SniperClops (776236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399732)

I'm from Canada, I wonder if this would happen here?

Re:Free speech (2, Funny)

Admiral Justin (628358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399772)

Nah, Canada prefers to sit around and watch what america does wrong, then have part of itself try to split off again, because they are bored.

Re:Free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399713)

I'm not at liberty to discuss this.

Newsflash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399838)

Libel not covered by free speech.

Film at 11.

If you go around publicly saying someone is threatening you then you better have some solid evidence. I guess this guy gets to present his evidence in the expulsion hearing. For his sake let's hope he was telling the truth (or maybe not; if a school district really has a conspiracy to threaten a student that would be worse than a single paranoid delusional student.)

schools don't offer "rights" per se. (-1)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399698)

It's an ongoing debate, whether or not a student in a public school has "rights". Of course they have the right not to be bullied, this student stretches the metaphor (he claims he is bullied because the school won't let him post anything he wants).

Schools impose all kinds of restrictions on students. Places of business impose all kinds of restrictions on employees. Owners of property impose restrictions on trespassers.

This is legal. Schools are allowed to have dress codes. Schools are allowed to decide what constitutes "non-disruptive" activity to the learning environment.

The unanswered question in this article is, did the student cross any line violating the school policy? If you read the quote, in legal terms there is an implicit threat -- some attorneys will argue "assault". Other attorneys will argue "free speech.

I think the kid is a blowhard, I don't think he's committed any crime, but his statement (especially with a veiled threat in the name of the Columbine assholes) exudes attitude. In my opinion (only) I think it's disruptive. And I think the school may be doing the right thing. I guess the courts get the final say.

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399725)

This is legal. Schools are allowed to have dress codes. Schools are allowed to decide what constitutes "non-disruptive" activity to the learning environment.

But schools CAN'T dictate what dress the students wear at home, and can't dictate what constitutes "non-disruptive" activity when they are sitting at their dinner tables with their families. ...his statement (especially with a veiled threat in the name of the Columbine assholes) exudes attitude.

My reading is that the Columbine post was posted AFTER the school threatened expulsion, though the article is very unclear.

In my opinion (only) I think it's disruptive.

How so?

In what way does a post on a website that probably can't be visited on school property disrupt classroom activity?

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (3, Insightful)

etymxris (121288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399735)

When a student makes statements that are (1) outside school hours, (2) off school property, (3) not associated with any school activities, then yes, the student has a great deal of liberty as to what he can say and do. Correspondingly, the administrators have very little say in what he can do in such circumstances. The notion of avoiding "disruption" is unlikely to fly here either. If they can control criticisms of the school in an environment completely outside of school authority, then they can pretty much dictate anything that students do.

A threat must be direct and immediate for it to fall outside of first amendment restrictions. His "threats" are vague, indirect, and unlikely to result in any real consequences.

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (1)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399779)

A threat must be direct and immediate for it to fall outside of first amendment restrictions. His "threats" are vague, indirect, and unlikely to result in any real consequences.

Vague threats are sufficient. Look at this page and consider the paragraph: [answers.com]

The message may be vague and implicit in an attempt to avoid blame, including legal consequences, while still clear enough to serve its purpose.

A vague threat often is intentionally designed to avoid legal consequences. Sometimes the attempt works, sometimes it doesn't.

This student referenced Columbine, which is vague. However it won't guarantee impunity.

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399822)

So any student mentioning the word "Columbine" is a threat? Use some critical reading skills befor blathering: He said that the Littleton, CO perpetrators were driven to their actions because of bullying. That's it. Find me a single study of the incident that does not attribute the attacks, at least in part, to Kliebold's and Harris' having been bullied. Plus, the district felt so incredibly threatened that they have not contacted a single law enforcement agency. Hmmm....

This is all irrelevant because the innocuous comment you reference was posted AFTER the student was suspended. You can't site subsequent behavior as the cause of the original punishment. Time travel has not been invented yet.

Use some common sense and think for yourself, don't just run screaming at the mention of the word "Columbine."

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (2, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399753)

"Places of business impose all kinds of restrictions on employees. Owners of property impose restrictions on trespassers."

sure, but with a business you're always welcome to quit and work somewhere else. Can't really do that with school.

And trespassers usually aren't trespassing when they're no longer on the property.

This kid posted this stuff outside of school. What's the harm, really? The school's just going to have hundreds of other rebellious teens doing the same thing now, they going to expell them all?

"If you read the quote, in legal terms there is an implicit threat..."

um, if you read the article they have quotes from the police saying the school was not being threatened and that the kid did not post anything illegal.

I'd hate to be the school if the kid can get a lawyer, could be a good pro bono case for a young lawyer trying to get a name for himself.

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (1)

Trifthen (40989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399778)

I think you missed the entire point of his post. He basically said, "Look Mr. School District, it's not like I'm one of the columbine kids. I haven't threatened anyone, and you're still treating me like shit. WTF?!"

It takes a pretty drasticly slanted interpretation, diseased mind, or an obvious agenda to manipulate that into, "I'm not saying I'm one of the columbine kids, but..." The agenda here of course, is to find any excuse to expel a kid perceived as a troublemaker. Hence a whiny post becomes grounds for expulsion. It's magic!

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (1)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399829)

I think you missed the entire point of his post. He basically said, "Look Mr. School District, it's not like I'm one of the columbine kids. I haven't threatened anyone, and you're still treating me like shit. WTF?!"

Well, you've paraphrased what he said, with your interpretation. Directly quoting the student, and with virtually complete context the student actually said (emphasis mine),

"..., I feel threatened by you, I cant even have a public Web page with out you bullying me and telling me what has to be removed. Where is this freedom of speech that this government is sworn to uphold? ... Did you ever stop to think this will start a community backlash? The kids at Columbine did what the did because they were bullied. ... "

You say

It takes a pretty drasticly slanted interpretation, diseased mind, or an obvious agenda to manipulate that into

I respectfully disagree. Juxtaposed, "you bullying me", and "kids at Columbine did what the (sic) did because they were bullied" don't require slanted interpretation, a diseased mind, or an obvious agenda. Your interpretation is based on your paraphrase of the quote. I'm looking at the kid's words.

I'm not endorsing rampant censorship and monitoring of students' outside activities, but I respect a school's initiative to recognize a potential problem before something happens. I'm guessing there are parents of about 13 high school students in Colorado who wished more attention had been paid to the postings of the Columbine students.

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399864)

NEWSFLASH:

As has now been mentioned to you 5-6 times, this comment was posted AFTER the suspension. You cannot justify a prior suspension by a subsequent action (unless the kid had been using a time machine.) And guess what? His comment is factually accurate! Find a single psych profile of the Littleton shooters that doesn't say they were bullied be both teachers and students. Repeating accepted facts is now "disruptive behavior."

You might feel threatened, but no teacher, student or administrator in this case did. RTFA, my friend. Nobody ever called the police about this comment.

Your bias and agenda is clear, but the facts simply do not support any of your suppositions. Face it, Ragu, you've had your ass handed to you!

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399791)

Your response makes no sense and is full of non-sequitors.

"Schools impose all kinds of restrictions on students. Places of business impose all kinds of restrictions on employees. Owners of property impose restrictions on trespassers." RTFA before posting - this has absolutely ZERO to do with the schoo. He posts on his own time with his own equipment and has made no threatening comments (per the Joliet police chief quoted in the article.) None. Of. Their. Business.

"This is legal. Schools are allowed to have dress codes. Schools are allowed to decide what constitutes "non-disruptive" activity to the learning environment." Again, if you would think and read before typing, you would see that this has NOTHING to do with the learning environment. It was done outside of school on privately owned equipment and made no criminal threats to any student, faculty, staff, or facilities.

"The unanswered question in this article is, did the student cross any line violating the school policy? If you read the quote, in legal terms there is an implicit threat -- some attorneys will argue "assault". Other attorneys will argue "free speech." If this is the case, then you go to the authorities. The district found the comments so threatening that they have contacted NOBODY about it. Not the police (local police chief says no crime has been committed - a pretty bold statement with likely pending legal action so it must be pretty cut and dried to him), not the DA's office, not the FBI. Yeah, must've been pretty serious stuff.

Should a public school be able to mete out punishment for violation of its dress code for clothing worn outside of school premises and during non-school hours? Others could see the student and it could cause a disruption.

What about giving detentions for students swearing with friends while hanging out on a Saturday afternoon? Surely this is setting a bad example and influencing the friends that are present.

What if a student gets a speeding ticket? Not only is this a bad example, it is endangering lives. (Won't somebody thing of the children?!)

Face it, the kid (who does in fact sound like an idiot) posted some comments that even the local police chief says are in no way criminal (no threats, etc.) This public school district has absolutley no business interfering with what activities the student engages on his own time using his own resources. None. Zip.

It's pretty obvious what party is causing the greatest disruption here.

Let me clear something up for you... (4, Informative)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399812)

A student of a school sitting at his computer at home has a right, the right to free speech as outlined in the First Amendment. This right does not come at the discretion of the school, but by the Constitution and is the supreme law of the land. The school can't come along and say, "Sorry son, we don't like what you're saying", as it occured during his own time off school property. I am too lazy to Google it, but I am certain that every school that has tried to discipline a child for speech outside of school hours and on private property has failed. There was a recent case of a teenager from Alaska that the school attempted to discipline for holding a banner during the 2002 Winter Olmypic torch relay that read, "Bong hits 4 Jesus", but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision saying:

"Public schools are instrumentalities of government, and government is not entitled to suppress speech that undermines whatever missions it defines for itself," Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote in the court's opinion.

The court also cleared the way for Frederick to seek damages, saying Morse was aware of relevant case law and should have known her actions violated his rights.
Courtesy of MSNBC.com. (OK, I did Google for that).

The principal, Morse, was upset that the banner undermined the schools anti-drug message, among other things. The point being that a school, as a government entity, doesn't get to pick and choose what speech is permissible and what is not off of school property and not on school time.

Re:schools don't offer "rights" per se. (4, Interesting)

egarland (120202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399852)

Schools impose all kinds of restrictions on students. Places of business impose all kinds of restrictions on employees. Owners of property impose restrictions on trespassers.

Schools are government bodies and attendance is mandatory. All children in this country who don't have the means to attian an alternate education are forced to be subjected to public school's rules. That makes your exmampeles irrelivant. The appropriate analogous situation would be prison. We do not allow prisons to remove inmates free speech rights, why would we let schools.

This is legal. Schools are allowed to have dress codes. Schools are allowed to decide what constitutes "non-disruptive" activity to the learning environment.

These things are pseudo-legal and only involve behavior while within the walls of the school. To extend the schools reach to everything a student does all the time is pretty obviously wrong. You wouldn't think it was right for schools impose a dress code on kids when they were at home would you?

Some people still don't get Columbine. The lesson there is trying to suppress issues and make them go away quietly is exactly the wrong thing to do. It makes things worse. The great thing is that lots of people did learn the lesson and started to listen to kids who didn't think everything was just perfect in their schools. Sadly this seems to be a school that has forgotten the lesson and is comfortable insisting students shut up and pretend everything is great.

Compared to overseas (5, Informative)

ajdlinux (913987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399699)

What is it with Americans and expulsion? Here in Australia if someone gets expelled it is because they have done something absolutely crazy that in America probably would have them in prison or something like that, e.g. bashing up other students. Even something like swearing in front of the teacher, depending on the school, may only get you suspended.

Re:Compared to overseas (1)

Dunarie (672617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399781)

"e.g. bashing up other students"

Bashing up other students is perfectly acceptable here in the good old US of A, DEFENDING yourself however, will easily result in at least a two week suspension. Oh, and god forbid you give someone, say, a hangnail on the bus.

Re:Compared to overseas (2, Informative)

Malestyr (824045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399807)

Hell, one kid was caught selling vodka, setting a dumpster on fire and melting the lid, smoking, selling pot and he got suspended. Three times. That wasn't enough to get an expulsion. Beating someone up is a week long suspension(annoyingly, so is fighting back.)

It's in IL, not NJ (4, Insightful)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399702)

New Jersey doesn't have a monopoly on Plainfields. There are many other Plainfields like it, but this one is mine. ;)

Clue: it's in the CHICAGO Sun-Times.

Further clue: from TFA - "Joliet Police".

I live near there - Plainfield is where the big Tornado disaster occurred about 12-13 years ago.

Re:It's in IL, not NJ (1)

Zen (8377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399723)

I was wondering where they came up with New Jersey. Never even heard of that one. I've got some friends that are teachers out that way. Plainfield was a booming school district a couple years ago - hiring more new teachers than any other subarb of Chicago due to growth. I'm going to have to check around and see if there were any memo's sent out by the school to the teachers about this. They must have told the teachers something.

Re:It's in IL, not NJ (1)

illuminatedwax (537131) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399832)

Now it all makes sense!! Joliet is pretty much about the worst terrible place in Illinois you can go.

Re:It's in IL, not NJ (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399854)

Well, as my dear old Dad used to tell me, If God wanted to give Illinois an Enema, Joliet is where he'd stick it!

Actually, other than the notorious Stateville Prison there, it's a pretty nice area.

I know where this mentality comes from (5, Interesting)

aurelito (566884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399703)

I can't imagine things have changed drastically since I graduated from high school four years ago. Our staff was afflicted with the worst type of technology paranoia. They couldn't really grasp the size of the internet; they could only understand electronic media as analogous to print, which -- given the popularity of "the internet" meant that publishing something unflattering about your school on the web was (to them) tantamount to taking a full page ad in the New York Times. These people _are_ bullies! They're afraid of the internet, so they'll compensate with administrative brawn.

Left and Right -- The Odd Couple (5, Insightful)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399705)

We likely don't know all the facts to this story, things can sound very clear cut depending on how you synopsize them, however I think blogs will eventually have to be considered as something between public and private. Various organizations will have to be banned from acting based on any information obtained from them -- perhaps even banned from actively searching them out without legal cause.

Odd how these threats to basic rights seem to come from the Left and the Right equally. Nobody in the extreme can ever stand dissenting opinion.

Re:Left and Right -- The Odd Couple (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399751)

Odd how these threats to basic rights seem to come from the Left and the Right equally. Nobody in the extreme can ever stand dissenting opinion.
That's because extremists of all stripes are more alike than almost anyone else. Visualize the range of ideologies as a sphere. You immediately notice that the 'extremes' (in your example, far left and far right) are actually right next to each other on the sphere. The only thing that seperates them are the specifics of their ideology - in all other aspects, they are in fact identical. Both believe that it is their 'right' to attempt to have absolute control over the thoughts of others.

Re:Left and Right -- The Odd Couple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399843)

This isn't entirely correct.

The 'far right' has recently been associated with the neo-conservative movement. This is not the true 'far right' - it's more of a fascist movement than a republican movement.

The true 'far right' are the libertarians, which hold that no one can have any control over anyones thoughts. Ever.

Public speech isn't private. (1)

stewby18 (594952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399789)

however I think blogs will eventually have to be considered as something between public and private.

That doesn't make any sense. If you want a private blog, you use a system that has accounts and access controls. If you want something between private and public, you use an alias that's not linked to your name in any way, and don't post identifiable things. If you post things under your name on publicly accessible sites, for the express purpose of making that content available to the rest of the world, you cannot possibly have any expectation of privacy. Something you broadcast globaly, indiscriminantly, is by definition not private. Saying that people shouldn't be able to "search" public blogs without legal cause is like saying that if you stand on the street and shout that you are selling drugs, and a police officer overhears you, that constitutes an illegal search.

Not acting on personal speech is completely different, and there are already various protections relating to speech. The idea of people saying things that, e.g., their employer may disagree with (but that their employer can't legally take action against them for) is not new to blogs.

Re:Public speech isn't private. (1)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399862)

There are obviously gray areas between public and private speech, I'm sure the courts hear them all the time. By current legal standards blogs are certainly considered public speech, but that doesn't mean certain organizations couldn't be restricted from trolling in them, specifically Government organizations of various types. The School System has no business ferreting out what every student is up to or said in public outside of school -- HOWEVER the internet has given them a new powerful tool to do so.

I've little pity for those who might fall afoul of the Law based on information obtained in public sources on the net, but each Government organization should have a clear and publicly posted policy on how and why it is collecting personal information on the web. Failure to do so should preclude said agency from being able to use such information for other than informing police of clear ongoing criminal activity.

don't have time?! (4, Insightful)

guardiangod (880192) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399706)

[mother]:"I asked, 'If this is such a serious threat, did you call the FBI?' They said, 'No, we don't have time for this.' I asked, 'Did you call the Joliet police?' and they said, 'no.'"

Don't have time? Don't have time?!

So what you are saying basically is that, rather than going thru the annoying route of reporting to the police, you are just going to expel the kid? I guess the kid's 60 years worth of future is too unimportant compared to your job huh? I mean, we wouldn't want your daily wanking^h^h^h^h^h^h administration sessions be interrupted.

I can't believe this. We are entrusting our childen to these...educators?! No wonder Columbine happened you idiots.

Remember, to a school, there are thousand of students; To a student, however, there is only one school. So please, get it right.

Re:don't have time?! (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399780)

I guess the kid's 60 years worth of future is too unimportant compared to your job huh?

Because turning him over to the police ensures a rosy future, doesn't it? And yes, I know he might be innocent. Still, being expelled from a school is nothing compared to having a criminal record.

Re:don't have time?! (2, Insightful)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399813)

He's not going to have a criminal record because he didn't do anything wrong. Failing to report the "threats" to the PD proves that the school isn't doing this because they think he's dangerous, but that they didn't like what he said. The school is going down, hard.

Re:don't have time?! (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399815)

Did you ever stop to think this will start a community backlash? The kids at Columbine did what the did because they were bullied.
I really don't think he'd do any jailtime for that statement. Don't try to make the administration sound like they've got his best interests at heart, because if that was their reasoning, you can be damn sure they would have wanted everyone to know, instead of avoiding the question with "we don't have time".

Re:don't have time?! (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399831)

A couple of corrections to both scenarios:

Since he's a juvenile, he won't bear a permanent adult arrest record.

Also, the law requires him to be in school 'til 18 (unless he enlists or is emancipated legally) so he will get his education, albeit at a private school. This will just punish his parents, at least financially...

Not Surpised (4, Insightful)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399709)

Thinking back on high school, omes teachers and school administrators were pretty insecure, petty people who liked to use their positions to bully students. Sometimes teachers/administrators can be just as childish as the students they teach. Most of them will never admit that they're wrong. If you argue them into a corner, you're told to drop the discussion or face disciplinary action. Compared to college, high school was not a place that promoted learning or thinking. There was one thing high school promoted and that was blind obediance to authority. Of course there are many good high schools across this country and obediance to authority to some extend is good. However, I'm not surprised that there are other schools like mine across this country run by insecure administrators who feel the need to bully students.

Ironically, one of the books I had to read for high school was "All Quiet on the Western Front". The drill sergeant in the book was a postman prior to the war so he felt the need to abuse the recruits. He knew that outside of his position in the heirarchy, no one respected him as a person so he abused his powers as a drill sergeant to make himself feel better. Reminds me of some school administrators... Sad bastards.

Re:Not Surpised (0, Flamebait)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399720)

Obviously I skipped out on the days when they taught grammar, spelling, and/or typing.

Re:Not Surpised (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399824)

blind obediance to authority.
Actually most also teach at least one other thing: you are your social status. Maybe it's a better way of putting your lesson, since it includes obeying authority, but it was definitely the main theme of my secondary education.

totally rediculious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399714)

The kid posted from a non-school computer not on school time. Its his legal right to be able to say what he thinks of the school. Unless the school is being threatened with physical violence they have NO say in what a student does out of school.

A blog isn't any different than any other medium (0)

philask (216894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399719)

I'm not going to comment on the relative merits of the school taking action against the pupil for what he said on his post.

However I do object to the general sense of 'if its a blog its ok', people seem to think that if they say something in their blog they are somehow protected or that it's OK to say it there because it's their personal space...

Wrong, a blog is a tool for publishing text, no more or less than that, before the word blog was banded around people published personal websites with news pages (which is all a blog is). I would expect anything you publish on the web to be treated equally be it on the front page of Slashdot, the BBC website, a discussion forum or a blog.

In conclusion - don't hide behind your 'blog'.

Re:A blog isn't any different than any other mediu (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399749)

Huh? What does having a blog have to do with this?

The same would be true if he sent into the local paper what he wrote on the blog, or printed it out and stapled it to telephone poles around town.

(Okay, the telephone poles might be worse because depending on the ordinances that could be seen as vandalism... taped it up to willing store windows then.)

Re:A blog isn't any different than any other mediu (1)

philask (216894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399814)

There is a certain implication in the orginal story and the headline are that it's OK if it's a blog. My point being that I see a lot of stuff on blogs which would never have been published on a 'normal website', people appear to believe they have some form of protection because they're posting to a blog. The blog is just a publishing tool like any other. You shouldn't say or do anything in your blog that you wouldn't be happy to do in any public space or publishing medium.

Re:A blog isn't any different than any other mediu (1)

etymxris (121288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399762)

He's not asking for any special protection because he's blogging rather than engaging in other forms of speech. He just wants the protections granted to speech in any medium. And it looks like he's not getting these protections.

Power (5, Insightful)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399721)

I think the problem here is power. During school hours a student is of course a student has to be expected to obey school rules, conform to standards of behaviour, respect staff etc. Unfortunately, the teachers at this school appear to have got it into their heads that this includes complete control over the student's communications. I remember at my old highschool our headteacher once suspended a pupil for having a mohican haircut, despite the school's published unifrom code stating nothing about haircuts. When parents complained she didn't seem to understand why anyone objected to her making up and enforcing rules at will.

The student should be commended for what he did. If he is genuinely being "threatened" and "bullied" by his school then he not only had a right but something of a duty to inform others of that, and yes, he should be in court, but as a plaintiff, not a defendant.

bullies (4, Insightful)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399728)

I really wonder what the discussion was like at the school board meeting. It's like: Hey, we can't let this guy get away with calling us bullies. What should we do about it? Hmmm, lets threaten to expell him. That will teach him. The sad truth is I've seen similar things in the corporate world. Maybe this is a good lesson on how the world works (as a previous poster mentioned).

Re:bullies (5, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399793)

Maybe this is a good lesson on how the world works (as a previous poster mentioned).

How about this lesson? "This is how it is" does not mean "This is how it should be".

Strange, I never seemed to get taught that in school either.

Re:bullies (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399810)

The difference is that, in general, the corporate world is allowed to throw you out on your ass for whatever reason they feel like. But a public school, as a government institution, must conform to the rights granted by the Constitution - which in this case means protecting this student's freedom of speech, as long as said speech doesn't impair the ability of students at the school to learn.

Wildly Wrong, Probably Unconstitutional (5, Insightful)

egarland (120202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399785)

I'm all for schools teaching kids good behavior but there are a few things they do that are both wrong and just plain illegal. Things schools should keep in mind:

Schools are mandatory. School attendance is not optional in the US. Kids have to go. There are a few who have the means to attend alternatives but those who don't are forced to attend public schools no matter what.

Schools are part of the government. Like police and judges our schools are government bodies. You can not give schools the ability to force the removal of fundamental rights. Judges can't. Police can't. Schools *MUST* be bound by the bill of rights including the right to free speech. They don't have the right to take that away much like they don't have the right to take your life away (forget detention.. you're going to the gas chamber.) You could argue that schools should be allowed to control speech in school creating short periods of time when their rights are suspended, although it's probably a bad idea. To say they have the ability to remove fundamental rights from people altogether is completely ludicrous. No federal, state or local government body can have that power. Granted, the bill of rights only specifically mentions federal government, the trend lately seems to be ruling that the 14'th amendment extends the bill of rights to state and local government. This would include schools.

The other thing that it's important to note is that speech restriction is essentially creating thought crimes and the effects are usually precisely the opposite of what was intended. Discouraging open exchange only worsens the problem that we are trying to ignore or make invisible. The first amendment exists for this reason and it's for this reason we should defend it absolutely without question always. Everyone has a right to be heard.

Re:Wildly Wrong, Probably Unconstitutional (2, Insightful)

barefootgenius (926803) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399833)

Two points. The first is that children are a special case. They are purposely discriminated against. The second is that schools are not there to teach you to think. They are there to indoctrinate you and prepare you for the workforce.

Rights, in a school?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399794)

Rights don't exist in schools, especially not in schools in "free" countries like America and the UK.

Re:Rights, in a school?! (2, Interesting)

DoddyUK (884783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399842)

Not in the UK. The students often have much more rights than the teachers. As a result, in some schools the teachers are powerless to effectively punish bad behaviour or expel pupils since the parents will use sort of Human Rights crap, which makes the local education authority overturn the decision, which in turn means that the school is stuck with the little bugger. And people wonder why the education system is in a mess nowadays.

I'm confused (3, Insightful)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399819)

What the hell was a school official doing reading random a students xanga? Do these people have no lives at all?

Re:I'm confused (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399840)

My brother told me about an incident at my old secondary school (which he still attends). Some of the kids put together a MySpace in the headmaster's name, complete with a photo and fake blog posts. It became popular and word of it spread around the school.

Eventually it reached the dickheads who people had avoided telling, one of which informed the head. He contacted MySpace, and they took the page down. Then he called a few dozen people into his office to lecture them on the dangers of the Internet, or something.

(Hey, I wonder if anyone reading Slashdot recognises this story...)

sounds like vn boards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399839)

nt

1st amendment... (1, Flamebait)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399855)

"The First Amendment doesn't give an individual the right to scream 'Fire' in a crowded theater and say that is protected by First Amendment rights," Harper said.

Yes it most certainly does. However, that crowded theater also has the right to kick you out for any reason it deems neccessary. Screaming "Fire!" isn't a threat directed to anyone. It's simply a disrupting comment. While I don't see any reason NOT to throw someone out of a theater who screams "Fire!", it's certainly not grounds for arrest.

school+anything electronic=over reacting (2, Interesting)

E8086 (698978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399860)

Being from NJ I'm outraged about this, and I though Plainfield was one of those rich towns where the kids always got what they wanted and no one ever got more than a day detention, maybe that's South Plainfield.

What's up with schools and a fear of anything electronic these days?
Force the kids into ibooks/laptops and expel/charge with computer trespass the ones who take the time to "explore" them. During a recent multi-day "field trip" my sister's class was banned from having anything electronic, but only 15 or so years ago I remember being encouraged to bring my GameBoy, even the teacher took part in our lunch time Tetris gaming. And anyone who used a "computer" to type their report got an automatic A, A+ if you added clipart/pictures.

Yes, electronic toys are much more common now and there should some limits on their use, can't be used all the time. Those of us in our mid 20s grew up with our games and were mostly able to impose our own limits and balance how long we played(weekend) and how much time we spent on work(non-weekend). Have kids these days lost that ability?

I once heard that there are two types of people who get involved in the administration of schools(not the teachers), those who really care about the kids and and those on a power trip(who would never be taken seriously by us rational adults)

If you mess with the 1st Amendment you will lose.

The xanga site in question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15399861)

http://www.xanga.com/Heckler3672bro [xanga.com]

Avoiding use of the name of "the student" doesn't help much when you quote excepts of a page on a site that's full indexed...

(Anonymous for your karma-whore free enjoyment.)

So glad I'm no longer in HS... (4, Interesting)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15399863)

I don't think I would be able to take it. Heck, one of my friends was a genius creative writer, chose macabre topics (murder, dissection, etc) and would hand out his writtings at school. Today he would be expelled. And who hasn't joked around about wanting a bomb threat to be called in so you could go home early? Now just talking about it would likely get you expelled.

It would be like going to a prison camp, being afraid of what to do, how to act, and what to say for fear of suspension and expulsion.

Thankfully my school had a program where you could go to community college instead of taking high school classes, so I didn't even spend my last two years at my highschool.
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