A recent decision by a school board to set discipline standards for student behavior online has sparked a spirited debate about student free speech outside of school.
The Tigard-Tualatin School District in Oregon has attempted to expand definitions of inappropriate language such as hate speech, harassment, or bullying, and that such speech is subject to school discipline if it “creates a disruption to the school environment” even if taking place off campus on social media.
The public response has included concerns about infringement of First Amendment rights, and accusations of overreach.
According to Jann Carson, associate director of American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, enforcing the policy is a “tricky thing to do”.
“It’s always difficult for a school to regulate off-campus speech without running into First Amendment violations,” said Carson. “Students have free speech rights.”
The decision of when to discipline is determined by identifying substantial disruption or threats of school violence.