A student at Five Forks Middle School in Gwinnett County, Georgia claims that his school suspended him for his web page rather than his behavior. The student plans to fight the 18-week suspension which he received soon after a school administrator viewed his web page.
The school claims that the student was suspended for disciplinary reasons. School officials said in a statement that the student violated three rules in the disciplinary handbook: disrupting the school’s mission; making written contact in a threatening or provoking nature to a school employee; and repeated violating of school rules.
“The school and school system are dealing with this situation as a disciplinary matter, not a First Amendment issue,” Berney Kirkland, spokeswoman for the school district, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The student received the suspension from a disciplinary panel that included three teachers and a school administrator. The student’s lawyer claims that transcripts from the panel’s hearing will prove that the web page was the main reason for the suspension. He said that the lawsuit forced the panel to give another justification for the suspension.
The student’s lawyer said that he will file a federal lawsuit regardless of whether the suspension is revoked or not, alleging that the student’s civil and constitutional rights were violated by the Constitution.
The Georgia Student’s web site, “Natasha’s Heckling Page,” listed 11 ways to disrupt class and singled out one administrator.
Since courts continue to rule that students have a First Amendment right to create web sites, we expect that schools will copy the Georgia administrators by suspending students for “other reasons.” For those students who routinely get in trouble, it will be difficult to prove the exact reason for the suspension.
The best defense against these potential suspensions is to convince hundreds of your fellow students to make radical web pages. Your school administrators won’t be able to suspend everyone. If you never get into trouble, they also won’t be able to suspend you since if they suspended you, it would be obvious that the cause was your web page.
Try out this template and fight for your First Amendment right to criticize your government school teachers.