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Should Schools Be All-Powerful?

"EVERYTHING you say or do ONLINE is subject to SCHOOL DISCIPLINE"

- Scholastic Action Magazine (emphasis added)

Scholastic Corporation, which provides "educational materials" to schools, has been criticized over promoting the "transgender" lifestyle choice to 3rd graders and for promoting the Occupy Wall Street movement (very interesting, since they are a large corporation themselves!) But now, a Scholastic Action magazine which exists in Fairfax County Schools has been discovered which promotes totalitarianism. 

Scholastic Action claims to be the "magazine that gets teens reading", but it really promotes a dangerous totalitarian mindset. In a recent issue of Scholastic Action, in a story about social media, the magazine claimed that "everything you say or do online is subject to school discipline" -- which would make a school all-powerful. 

This is part of a disturbing trend of schools attempting to exercise control over students' personal online activities. This trend is largely a result of media sensationalism related to "cyberbullying." 

Case law shows clearly that schools have no control over speech outside of their walls and are heavily restricted in controlling speech inside of school. For example, in Evans v. Bayer, a federal district court ruled that off-campus activity was protected by the First Amendment. The Harvard Journal of Law and Technology summarized the court's ruling as follows:

"The court held that First Amendment rights are stronger for public school students’ off-campus expressions than on-campus expression. Because Evans had made the posting at home, without any on-campus disruption, and without showing it to others at school, the court found that the posting was made off-campus. The court then held that Evans’ speech was protected by the First Amendment’s right to “freedom of expression.”  In so doing, the court dismissed several arguments by Bayer. On such argument, that the posting was unprotected libel, was defeated by the rule that pure opinion is not defamation. The court lastly concluded that the constitutional right was clearly established in this case. Thus, the motion to dismiss the damages claim was denied."

"The case strengthens the general concept that schools cannot punish students for online activity occurring outside of the school"

In the case J.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified School District, a federal court ruled that it was illegal to suspend an 8th grade student for posting a YouTube video in which she insulted another student. The court ruled that:

"The Court does not take issue with Defendants’ argument that young students often say hurtful things to each other, and that students with limited maturity may have emotional conflicts over even minor comments. However, to allow the School to cast this wide a net and suspend a student simply because another student takes offense to their speech, without any evidence that such speech caused a substantial disruption of the school’s activities, runs afoul of Tinker."

These are just two cases which show that schools cannot legally punish students for online speech in most cases. Scholastic's totalitarian fantasy is just that -- for now...


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