Schools Have the Right

Aneeá H. - LLI Cleveland

Free speech is a law with restrictions. We all know that we have the right, in this country, to say what we want to say and express ourselves through any form of writing. Do we all know the restrictions under this law? Do students have the same rights? Can schools punish students for something they said off school grounds or is this a violation of their rights?

In my opinion, yes, schools should have the right to punish students if something is said or done off of school grounds. I do not think that this is a violation of students' rights or the First Amendment. Why? Because “schools have the rights and responsibility to provide a safe environment for students. Schools have the duty to their students from harassment and bullying in the school environment.” How can a school do this if they allow students to harass and bully other students off of school grounds?

If a student goes to a school, then they are part of the school environment.

In the case Kowalski v Berkeley County Schools, a student created a website saying harmful and hateful things to another student. She also invited other students to join in. Why did the school intervene with something that happened outside of school? They did it because the next day the student who she meant to harm was uncomfortable to sit in class with students who made comments about her on the webpage. This is when a school should take action because, to that girl, that school was not a safe environment and that is the main job of a school.

In conclusion, a school should be able to intervene if something is said or done off of school grounds because if it is a student, then they are a part of that school’s environment and in my opinion a school’s number one job is to educate and to be a safe environment. Cyber bullying and school punishment is a young topic. Nevertheless, it is a topic worthy of discussion and review.


Sources Considered 

  • Kowalski v. Berkely County Schools, 652 F.3d 565 (4th Cir. 2011).
  • Walsh, Mark. "Court Upholds Discipline of Student Over Internet Bullying." The School Law Blog. Education Week. 27 July 2011.
  • LoMonte, Frank. "Supreme Court's Online Speech No-Decision Counts as a "Win" for Student First Amendment Rights." Student Press Law Center. 18 Jan. 2012.
  • "School Authority Over Cyber Bullying." WR150 First Amendment Portfolio. e-Portfolios Directory.
  • Hudson Jr., David, L. "Cyberspeech." K-12 Public School Student Expression Overview. Newseum Institute. 1 Aug. 2008.