Here is yet another story about the free speech questions raised by Facebook postings by students. A California student won his legal challenge of a school suspension for writing on Facebook that his honors class biology teacher was “a fat ass who should stop eating fast food and is a douche bag.”
The school charged student Donny Tobolski with cyberbullying and suspended him. But the teen’s mom called in the ACLU, which argued that the suspension violated the student’s free speech rights.
“Schools, tasked with the important role of teaching our youth about civic engagement, send the wrong message when they fail to live up to our country’s founding principles,” wrote the ACLU in a letter to the district.
The ACLU cited the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines in which Justice Abe Fortas wrote, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” In its letter, the ACLU noted that Donny posted the Facebook comments from his home computer outside of school.
Now, the school has backed down, noting that Donny’s comments were not disruptive and did not constitute cyberbullying.
Note: ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union.