A California high school student who was suspended for calling a teacher “a douche bag” on Facebook has been reinstated, following a legal showdown involving the American Civil Liberties Union.
The youth, an honor student and star football player, apologized after school officials confronted him over his Facebook scrawling, which described one of his teachers as a “fat ass who should stop eating fast food, and is a douche bag.” School officials later suspended him anyway, claiming the post constituted cyberbullying.
An ACLU attorney proceeded to school the officials on the basics of the First Amendment, which bars them from disciplining students for speech unless it creates a significant disruption to the learning environment. The Facebook posting posed no actual threat and was posted to his personal account from his home computer during non-school hours. As such, the attorney argued it was protected speech. Officials eventually backed down.
For a student to be punished for cyberbullying, the communications must involve sexual harassment, a hate crime or creating of an intimidating or hostile educational environment,” the ACLU said. ®