DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

                                                My Interpretations


In Tinker's 1969 Supreme Court ruling, it clearly states "that students have the right to free speech in schools, such that school officials could not interfere with a student's expression unless it is necessary to avoid a material or substantial disruption." Cases since Tinker have demonstrated that Tinker should be extended beyond the school house gates which would then allow school administrators to punish students for off-campus speech. This is seen when a student, Kara Kowalski, created a Myspace page to directly ridicule a fellow classmate. She was then suspended from school for five days and the Supreme Court of Florida held that the school acted within its entirety to suspend Kowalski for her off-campus speech for fear that it would create an in-class disruption.


Although a "material or substantial" disruption had not occurred, which is necessary in order to restrict a student's free speech, "Tinker does not require certainty, only that the forecast of substantial disruption be reasonable." (Lower v Euverard, 2007) Therefore, when punishing students for off-campus speech, the courts state that there doesn't actually have to be a disruption; just the possibility that a disruption will occur is enough to limit a student's speech.


However, the United States Supreme Court held "that educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns." It seems to me that yes, although a schools maintains responsibility to help promote a safe school environment, it is also a student's 1st Amendment Right to free speech and congress shall make no law abridging that free speech so long as it is of no harm to any persons. The school system has been abridging the rights of students when they enact policies that specifically state what it is appropriate and not appropriate for school, like profanity, for example. However, when it comes to the issue of free speech and what students do on their own personal time, home is an entirely different setting.  Because school administrators can punish students for speech that is conducted off-campus, school administrators have the authority to exercise excess power of its students.


We also have to keep in mind the circumstances of when school officials can exercise this editorial control and with whom they can exercise it with. The environment of a high school, or middle school, or even elementary school setting is far different from that of a college campus or university. If you take a look at cases involving college students, whether it is punishment for off-campus speech, or the idea of limiting a student's free speech by enacting these "free speech zones" many college students present a different theory.  


As touched upon in Amanda Torte's article, oftentimes the legal policies that are carried out by the courts and the school administrators fail to adhere to the larger legal principal that is stated in the 1st Amendment of the Supreme Court: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Therefore, abridging the freedom of speech of a student while off campus is unconstitutional. We are well aware that the rights of students are not the same as those of an adult beyond the schoolhouse gates.  However, once that student is beyond the school house gate, it is unconstitutional for school administrators to abridge that students speech if there is no creation of a "material or substantial disruption" on school grounds.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.