Students should not be punished for behavior outside of school

by JONATHAN BROOKSHIRE//Social Media Coordinator

Social media is everywhere.

It’s an ad on a billboard. It’s an app on a phone. Everybody from a child to a corporate business uses it. There is no escaping the Internet and social media.

A popular subject for the new generation of students is whether schools can punish them for what they post, do, and say outside of school.

In the past 10 years or so, many of these cases have been becoming more abundant and also have been a trending genre for many books and films.

In the 2015 court case Burge v. Colton School District 53, a 14-year-old student at Colton Middle School in Oregon (CMS) posted his frustration with his health teacher about his grade from his home computer. The post was later deleted due to his mother’s asking.

Six weeks later, a mother of another CMS student printed out the post and put it inside the health teacher’s mailbox. The student was later suspended for three and a half days. When the principal of CMS contacted the child’s mother, she argued that the school couldn’t punish her child for something that didn’t happen at school.

There have been many more cases just like this one that reached the attention of the Supreme Court. However, Congress has not passed a law that makes it legal for school districts to be able to punish students for their behavior outside of school.

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According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in 2015, Minnesota student Reid Sagehorn sued Rogers High School after being suspended for a sarcastic tweet about him “making out” with one of his teachers.

Sagehorn proved successful in his court case, and he was not sentenced for any punishment.

Many parents and students believe that they or their children should not be punished for their actions and behavior outside of school, and I agree 100 percent.

The Bill of Rights clearly states in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that citizens of the United States are entitled to freedom of speech. However, the Constitution does not specifically state the citizen has to be a certain age to obtain these unalienable rights. So a child who can barely utter a word, or a senior citizen on his deathbed spitting his last breathe, has the freedom to say whatever he so desires.

For a school district to have the right to punish students for what they say or do away from school grounds is ridiculous.

The argument the schools have is that it can cause distraction inside the classrooms and inhibit the learning environment.

The schools are right. A post from a student may circulate around the campus, and it can be the subject at hand instead of the lesson. But what right does a school have to take the freedom of speech away from its students? Absolutely none.

I believe that no school has the right to punish a student if he or she is not on the campus and not using school resources.

Author: Plainsman Press Staff

The student newspaper of South Plains College.

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