EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) – The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case addressing whether schools can discipline students for their speech off-campus, and a UW-Eau Claire professor is concerned about the implications this case could have on cyberbullying.
Four years ago, a high school student posted a Snapchat with profanity after she had not made the varsity cheerleading squad. The Snapchat was posted off school grounds, but her school suspended her from the junior varsity cheerleading team.
Two lower courts have already ruled in favor of the girl, saying the school did not have the authority to punish her for this speech.
UW-Eau Claire professor of criminal justice Dr. Justin Patchin said depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling, it could make schools unable to discipline other students’ speech, like cyberbullying.
“That’s why I think this case raises some interesting questions about a student’s right to education and right to participate in extra curricular activates, but then also what the school’s authority is in disciplining students for those off campus behaviors,” Patchin said.
Patchin is the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and contributed to a brief which was sent to the Supreme Court that focused on the implications that this case could have on other out-of-school behavior.
The Supreme Court should reach a decision on the case this summer.