Friday, June 24, 2011

Score One for the Cyberbrat.

Just what can a middle school student put on the internet about his principal?  No waffling here, but it "depends."  In this case mommy and daddy successfully defended their little cherub's creation of a phony MySpace profile for the Principal, using his actual picture, and stating:  his child looked like a gorilla; he enjoyed hitting on students; he enjoyed sex of any kind, and that his wife looked like a man.  Not particularly original, and well, predictably juvenile. The principal took offense at one or more of these attributions, and was prepared to prove that at least one or more of the statements were false.  I am not sure which.  

Anyway, the Court protected the little cyberbrat, holding that he did not use school resources, created the profile off-campus, on private time, and "did not cause a substantial disruption" to school operations.  The court held that the "general rumblings" at school were not all that disruptive, and no one would take these juvenile rantings seriously.  The Principal and School Board apparently disagreed when they suspended the culprit. Maybe they knew something about the family photo album the Court of Appeals did not.

The School District's long arm could not reach the little rascal as he ducked for protection behind the First Amendment.  

J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District, No. 08-4138 (3rd Cir. June 13, 2011)