Your Questions, Answered
Can a school suspend students for attacking another student on social media?
A school has the authority to discipline students for off-campus attacks made on social media that disrupt the general student welfare or attack an individual student. Even though the First Amendment protects many kinds of speech, student speech that is considered a true threat or creates a substantial disruption to the school will not be protected.See our response
Can a school stop you from creating a memorial for a student suicide victim?
A school can stop you from doing that because the school is probably worried that the memorial could cause a substantial disruption in the school and interfere with learning. But there may be a more thoughtful way of commemorating the student that the school would be less likely to censor.See our response
Can a school ban pictures of students with guns?
Decisions about whether to publish a photo of a student with a gun must balance students’ constitutional rights with the school’s mission and responsibility to maintain a safe, non-disruptive school environment.See our response
Can we use pictures of celebrities to make a look-alike page in our yearbook?See our response
Can a male student get in trouble for wearing a dress to school?
There’s a student at my school who is biologically male, but the other day he wore a dress to school. No one had any issues with it except one teacher who started asking him questions and sent him to the principal. All of the students were confused why this was such a big deal. Can the school really discipline the student for wearing a dress?See our response
Can I get in trouble for making fun of my teacher in a YouTube video?
One night at a friend’s house, we made a music video just joking around and posted it on YouTube. Some of the lyrics make fun of a coach at school. Here are some the lyrics we’re worried about:
Everybody knows he can’t coach for shit
been divorced twice cause he’s a f****in’ prick
It was meant to be a joke and we only showed it to a few people, but a lot of kids at school are starting to see the video and talk about it. Are we going to get in trouble by the school if they find out we made this video?
See our response
Does my article about a special education student violate FERPA?
I teach high school journalism. One of my journalists published a story in the school newspaper about students who serve as mentors to special education students. The article featured a picture of two special education students with quotes about the program and a headline that used the word “disability.” A parent complained about the article, saying it was stigmatizing. Did my journalism student violate FERPA when he published the article with that headline?See our response
Is using the design of a popular board game as a theme for homecoming copyright infringement?
I’m on the homecoming committee for my high school. We want to use designs and graphics from a popular board game, like Monopoly or Candyland, as part of our theme for homecoming. The homecoming floats would probably copy images from the board game. Our faculty advisor told us this might be copyright infringement. What is copyright infringement? Can we use the board game theme?See our response
Can a school make a student take off a hijab to compete in a sporting event?
I run cross country and one of my teammates wears a hijab. One time at a meet, a coach told her that she had to take it off if she wanted to compete. Can a school make her do that?See our response
Can a school censor a student's threatening speech?
In the wake of the recent school shooting, I’ve seen some disturbing posts from a classmate. He keeps talking about how “those kids probably deserved it” and that the shooter “had the right idea.” He claims that he’s just joking and it’s free speech anyway. But I’m not the only one feeling scared about the things he saying. Can the school do anything about it?See our response