"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It Pays To Be Untrue To Your School

Betsy Newark has a post about a New Jersey school district agreeing to pay $117,500 to a student who was punished for creating a website that included critical statements about his middle school.

The student, Ryan Dwyer created the website containing criticism of his school on his own time from his home computer. Apparently Maple Place Middle School administrators learned of the student’s negative comments and suspended the student for a week, benched him from playing on the baseball team for a month, and barred him from going on his class trip, among other punishments.

The school district has never — to this day — explained to us what rule or policy our son violated

The school district issued a prepared statement that said it solicited advice and guidance from legal advisers and law enforcement officers and acted "on its belief that it was protecting all of the children and the staff in the district."
According to an Associated Press article from April of this year the student’s website:
…greeted users with the legend, “Welcome to the Anti-Maple Place — Your Friendly Environment,” and said: “This page is dedicated to showing students why their school isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. You may be shocked at what you find on this site.”

Ryan urged students to make stickers that said “I hate Maple Place” and also wrote, “Don’t even try to make me take my Web site down because it is illegal to do so!”

Users who wished to leave comments were instructed not to use profanity and “no threats to any teacher or person EVER.”

Some visitor comments criticized the school and its teachers, but others, the lawsuit conceded, “were arguably crude, sophomoric and offensive.” Ryan never made threats or used profanity,
As usual taxpayers are the losers in this case, paying the total price for this nonsense.

The lawsuit is captioned Dwyer v. Oceanport School District, et al. The decision was rendered by United States District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Trenton, New Jersey. The court’s ruling is online at: http://www.aclu.org/StudentsRights/StudentsRights.cfm?ID=17919&c=159.




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