HOLLAND, OH- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio will defend the free speech rights of a student who was expelled* for posting a spoof profile on MySpace.com.
On Wednesday, April 26, the Springfield School Board, located in Lucas County outside of Toledo, will hear the expulsion appeal of Jessica Schoch. Jessica was expelled from school when administrators discovered a parody profile of the Assistant Principal she created on MySpace.com from her home on her own computer. Jessica will be represented at the school board hearing by ACLU cooperating counsel Arnold Gottlieb.
ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso said, “The profile was an obvious joke. If we are going to expel students for poking fun - even offensive fun - at a teacher or principal, our classrooms will be empty and our hopes to educate will be in vain.”
ACLU of Ohio cooperating counsel Arnold Gottlieb said, “Countless courts have recognized that the First Amendment allows students to write about schools and staff members so long as students are not disrupting class by creating these web pages using school resources or while the student is on the premises.”
Jessica has a 3.5 grade point average and is a member of the softball team. She has received some home education but has been unable to participate in extra-curricular activities since her expulsion nearly a month ago. According to Ohio law, the hearing before the school board will be the last before her expulsion is final.
“I have faith that the local school board will do the right thing and rescind Jessica’s expulsion. Schools have an obligation to teach students fundamental principles such as free speech and I believe the school board will honor the Constitution and right this situation.” Gottlieb added.
*The Springfield School District maintains that Jessica was not expelled from school, however, she has not been allowed on school grounds for nearly a month, has not been able to attend classes and cannot participate in extra-curricular activities.