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Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools: A School Can Discipline a Student for Creating a “Students Against Sluts Herpes” Website Without Violating the First Amendment


by Richard Fossey — August 29, 2011

Can a school discipline a student who constructed a social networking webpage to orchestrate a targeted attack on a classmate? Yes, says the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, at least in certain circumstances. If a student’s off-campus electronically delivered speech disrupts a school’s learning environment, school authorities can impose discipline. In Kowalski v. Berkeley County School District (2011), the court examined a high-school student’s discussion group webpage that other students used to engage in hateful and even defamatory speech toward a classmate. That kind of speech constitutes bullying and harassment, the Fourth Circuit ruled, and the school can suspend the student who created the webpage without offending the First Amendment.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 29, 2011
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16520, Date Accessed: 10/24/2017 12:17:42 AM

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About the Author
  • Richard Fossey
    University of North Texas
    E-mail Author
    RICHARD FOSSEY is Professor and Mike Moses Endowed Chair in Educational Administration at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. He was recently appointed Editor of the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership.
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