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Legal Issues In Education Essay

1195 words - 5 pages

The World Wide Web enables students to access a wealth of information and create communication portals with a click of a mouse. Email is quickly becoming a primary form of communication between students, faculty and parents. A main focus is management of internet and email usage both on and off campus to ensure students are accessing and using the internet in a non abusive and educational manner. This paper will discuss major court cases that have steered the direction in which educators manage internet usage and define ways educators and administrators can protect the educational environment from the abuse of internet usage though well defined policies and practices.Setting PrecedenceThe ...view middle of the document...

Kuhlmeirer (1988) which gives educators the right to censor student speech in school sponsored activities. Although these cases have set the precedent if other cases are heard, it has become readily apparent through recent cases specifically regarding Internet usage that a new standard is needed.Beussink v. Woodland R-IV School District (1998) was one of the first cases to address freedom of speech violation from disciplinary action taken against internet usage. Beussink, a high school student posted a web-page with harsh-language criticizing certain faculty. Beussink was initially suspended for five days and asked to remove the web page. Although Beussink complied he was then suspended for five more days and as a result of the suspension and the district’s grading policy, he failed all his classes. Beussink filed suit against the district for violating his First Amendment and was found in favor by the court. The suit was heard under the Tinker case and “the court determined that Beussink was disciplined for the content of his website and not because it caused a substantial disruption at school and therefore his First Amendment rights were indeed violated by the school” (Waters, 2008, p. 4).Another case in which the courts ruled in favor of the student is Emmett v. Kent School District No. 415 (2000). Emmett created an interactive website that included mock obituaries and allowed voting by visitors on what student would be listed next. Emmett was suspended for five days and therefore, brought suit based on violation of the First Amendment. The court’s decision, based on the Fraser and the Kuhlmeirer cases, ruled that the student’s website did not take place on campus or show any actual threat.The Boucher v. School Board of Greenfield (1998) case proved the opposite and was one of the first victories for school districts. In this case the student posted a paper online that described and encouraged how to hack into the school’s computer system and view all the files. He was suspended then expelled for this article and as a result he filed suit under the First Amendment. Through appeal the court found that the action taken by the student could reasonably result in behavior that is disruptive to the school. Thus empowering schools to take action before substantial damage is caused.A second case in which the court found in favor of the school district is J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School Dist. (2000). This case involved a student creating a website that...

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