Responds should include (a) their reactions to classmates’ postings, (b) how/why their actions would be similar or different, and (c) additional case law and statutes that could have been included, and (d) at least two questions that are thought provoking and probing. Discussion responses should be between 2-4 paragraphs in length (i.e., 75-100 words) and should contain grammatically correct sentences that have been thought out and encourage further discussion. In the case described in this scenario, one in which the student was upset with the teacher and posted negative things about the teacher online and encouraged students and parents to make the teachers life a living hell, the actions required by the principal are very clear. That is because this is a case of bullying and harassment and bullying and harassment are not allowed when it is involved in public education (Lekunze, 2018).
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There would be a number of arguments raised here about whether the school has any authority since the student did the posting at home, and after school hours. Therefore, he was not in violation of school protected speech domains because he was off grounds and after hours. While these are certainly significant and important distinctions to be made, and they will certainly be at least addressed if not settled by the case of Mahoney Area School District v B.L., currently before the Supreme Court, they are perhaps secondary considerations to this case.
In this case, the primary concern is not the free speech of the student or the determination of where and when he made the statements. The most important and proximate concern is that he was bullying and threatening the teacher. Therefore, he should be punished in accordance with the school districts policies regarding threatening or suggesting causing harm to any individual.
If the school district in question here is like most districts, it will immediately suspend the student. It will then conduct an investigation to find and gather facts. After this, the student will eb allowed an appearance before eth school board with his parents and legal representation if they choose. However, since he advocated torment of the teacher and placed the teachers personal and private information on the social media posts, he would clearly be guilty of harassment and bullying. For these reasons, it is unlikely that he would gain an exception and so he would be subsequently expelled from the district for his actions.
There are a handful of Supreme Court decision that have bearing on this case. Concerning free speech and the rights of what students can and cannot say they would include Tinker (1969), Fraser (1986), and Hazelwood (1988), and the currently being decided Mahoney Area School District v B.L. However, the more important cases that will have bearing here are not the ones that deal with issues and questions of free speech. Instead, the cases that have bearing to the actions of the principal will be those that deal with cases of harassment and bullying by students. These would include Tinker (1969) again in that it allows the school to regulate those actions including speech that are disruptive or harmful to the work of the school and the protection of the students, as well as several state laws that address bullying in the environmental setting.
Lekunze, L. M. G., & Strom, B. I. (2017). Bullying and Victimization Dynamics in High School: An Exploratory Case Study. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, 19(1), 147-163.