J.S. v. Blue Mtn. Sch. Dist., No. 08-4138 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The student was suspended for using a home computer to create an internet profile of her middle school principal, including sexual content and vulgar language. The site did not include the principal's name, but did include his picture from the school website. Other students were not able to view the site from school computers and the student made an effort to limit viewers to a few of her friends. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the school on First Amendment claims (42. U.S.C. 1983). The Third Circuit reversed in part. The school violated the student's rights in suspending her for for off-campus speech that caused no substantial disruption in school and that could not reasonably have led school officials to forecast substantial disruption in school. There was no disruption beyond "general rumblings" and a few minutes of talk in class; the profile was outrageous and there was no evidence that anyone took it seriously. The court rejected the parent's Fourteenth Amendment claim of interference with their "liberty" interest in raising their child. The court affirmed that the school handbook and computer use policy were not overbroad and vague.