Free Speech Press Release

11.14.16

ACLU Urges Shaker Heights High School to Reverse Decision to Punish Students for Free Speech

Free Speech

CLEVELAND—The ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to officials with Shaker Heights High School urging them to immediately reconsider their decision to punish two students for posts made on social media. The two students were assigned discipline on Thursday, November 10, the day after posting messages from another student that were derogatory toward African Americans. Saddened and disappointed by the remarks, the students posted the statements online to call attention to them and urge others to speak out against them. Each student was assigned one day of in-school suspension.

“The First Amendment protects us all, regardless of our age. These young women saw statements by another student that went against their values and used social media to speak out about it,” said Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio senior policy director. “Unfortunately, school officials decided to punish these students for exercising their free speech rights. It’s disappointing that instead of using this situation as an opportunity to teach young people about free speech and racial justice, school officials resorted to punishing these students for standing up for their convictions.”

One student has already served her day of in-school suspension, but sophomore Myyah Husamadeen is not supposed to serve her punishment until Tuesday, November 15. In its letter to Shaker Heights officials, the ACLU asks them to reverse the decision to suspend Husamadeen.

Neither student’s social media posts were made during the school day or on school property. In their posts, the two students expressed frustration and anger with the derogatory messages from the other student, but neither made threats or posted any personal attacks on the student.

Read the letter to Shaker Heights High School

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