HOLLAND, OH- Today, The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio applauded last night’s decision by the Springfield School Board to reinstate eighth grade student Jessica Schoch. Jessica was not allowed to attend school or participate in extra-curricular activities after school officials discovered a MySpace profile that parodied a school administrator.
The ACLU of Ohio represented Jessica at last night’s Springfield School Board meeting and argued that the profile was free speech and that it was an issue for the parents rather than the school because she created the profile at home on her own computer.
ACLU of Ohio cooperating attorney Arnold Gottlieb said, “We are pleased the school board ultimately recognized that defending a lawsuit over its actions would have been time-consuming, costly to taxpayers and most importantly–unsuccessful.”
Gottlieb continued, “Any reasonable person would see that this was merely a joke gone awry. Jessica’s parents have responded to the situation and have disciplined her and curtailed her internet use.”
Cases involving online journals, profiles and other sites have become more and more common as use of the internet has increased over the years. Various courts have ruled in the past that students may write about their school or those who work at school so long as it is not done with school equipment or during class hours.
“Many cases involving students authoring online sites parodying or complaining about school officials have sprung up around the country. We hope this is a clear signal that schools may not punish students for exercising their free speech rights outside of the school on their own time.” Gottlieb added.