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Layshock v. Hermitage School District

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
650 F.3d 205 (2011)


Facts

Justin Layshock (plaintiff) created a fake online profile of his high school principal, Eric Trosch, from his home using a personal computer. Layshock granted access to the profile to fellow students. The profile included a picture of Trosch and described him as a thief, an alcoholic, a drug abuser, a “big whore,” and a “big fag.” Layshock accessed the profile while at school and showed it to classmates. Trosch discovered the profile and attempted to have the school’s information-technology staff restrict access to the website. The website was not immediately blocked. However, school officials controlled students’ access to computers by limiting the settings so Internet access could be supervised. Layshock was given a 10-day suspension, sent to an alternative-education program for a semester, banned from all extracurricular activities, and prohibited from participating in his own graduation ceremony. Layshock sued the Hermitage School District (the district) (defendant), alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. The trial court determined that the district could not establish that Layshock’s speech caused a substantial disruption of the school environment. The district appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (McKee, C.J.)

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Concurrence (Jordan, J.)

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