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JS ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain School District

650 F.3d 915 (2011)

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JS ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain School District

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

650 F.3d 915 (2011)

Facts

In response to being disciplined for a dress-code violation at a public middle school (defendant), student JS (plaintiff) and a friend created a fake MySpace profile for their principal on a personal computer in JS’s home. The profile contained a photo of the principal, lewd and vulgar language, and personal attacks on the principal and his family, including a claim that the principal had engaged in sexual misconduct. However, the profile did not include the principal’s real name or identify the school, was created in a clearly juvenile fashion, and was public for less than a day. JS then restricted the profile to approved MySpace users, which were 22 other students in the school district. Students talked about the profile at school, but they could not view it (or any other MySpace page) on the school’s computers. The only known copy of the profile on school grounds was a paper copy that the principal asked a student to bring. The school’s counselors had to reschedule some events to help handle the school’s response, but there was no other measurable disruption to the school’s operations. JS was suspended. JS sued the school, claiming that being punished for off-campus speech violated her First Amendment rights. The district court ruled that the school could punish JS for lewd and vulgar speech that had an effect at school and dismissed JS’s claim. JS appealed to the Third Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Chagares, J.)

Concurrence (Smith, J.)

Dissent (Fisher, J.)

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