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    School discipline for Facebook party pictures

    Date: 01.12.08 | by Judge Tom.


    In early January, 2008 dozens of students at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota were questioned by school officials about pictures of them seen on Facebook. Some were seen partying with alcohol present in violation of school rules. Thirteen students were disciplined including reprimands and suspensions from sports and other extracurricular activities.

    The school stated that they were not trolling the Internet or searching Facebook for violations. Someone tipped them off about the pictures and the school couldn’t ignore it or look the other way.

    Eden Praire High School

    Should students expect privacy when posting entries on a social networking site? If you publicize your behavior, can you expect to escape any consequences? Or is the school overreaching by prying into your off-campus activities?

    Take a look at “You and the Internet” on this site under Popular Posts on the homepage for further discussion about Internet issues and teens.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    5 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • anonymous
      Fri, 25 Jan 2008 at 01:35

      bull shit

    • Devin
      Thu, 26 Feb 2009 at 07:02

      I believe that if it doesn’t happen at scholl then the school should keep out of it. In no way does a school have then right to search FACEBOOK for rumors about the students.

      Judge Tom’s response:
      Devin, most schools don’t skulk through social networking sites looking for students violating school rules. There’s little time and reason for such behavior. But when alerted to an offensive post or one that constitutes cyberbullying, for example, they are compelled to take action.

      While on the subject, be sure to clean up your online pages before applying for a job, college admission, scholarship, etc. Google yourself and see what’s out there with or without your picture. Employers, colleges and universities may be checking before deciding whether to hire or admit you. Your future is at stake here.

    • Joe Schwarz
      Tue, 14 Apr 2009 at 06:00

      so does the school have the right to discipline you outside of school?

      Judge Tom’s response:
      Yes, in most states, a school may impose discipline for violations of school rules even if the conduct occurred off-campus. If it’s a school-related event, field trip, away-game, etc. they do have the authority to impose a consequence for breaking a rule.

    • haley
      Mon, 18 May 2009 at 06:23

      i got a saturday school for being in a group on facebook that i did not even know i joined but it was a group saying mr.zeoli should die
      i did not make the group nor did i say anything about it on facebook or refer it to someone else.
      if it says im going to kill him i would understand but it doesnt , can they do that?

      Judge Tom’s Response:
      Great question, Haley. You raise an important First Amendment concern about free speech and freedom of assembly. In other words, your right to be with your friends and join a group, club, chat room, etc. assuming your parents approve.
      Assuming you didn’t write or contribute to the message to Mr. Zeoli, you should calmly explain your involvement with it. Not everyone is familiar with social networking sites – he may not understand that the names and pictures that appear on a web page are not all part of a message he receives. Ask for a meeting where you and your parents can sit and discuss the situation. Let us know what happens. Good luck.

    • Tanner
      Wed, 14 Mar 2012 at 07:41

      Recently a girl from my school made a Facebook post saying,”Mr. Stanley is going down.” Mr. Stanley is our principle at Birchwood School. Yesterday this girl was expelled from our school, my mom an old leader of WI Facets said, and I agree, that the school cannot and should not punish her to such an extent. They should not even have access to her account, false identities?
      Dear Tanner: As you know, online posts or other messages from cellphones that are considered threatening may result in a school taking action. There may be more to this than you know and if the girl thinks her expulsion is unjustified, she and her parents can take it up with the administration. The school’s responsibility is to protect all students and staff and maintain a safe learning environment on campus. Comments like this must be taken seriously to prevent further tragedy as we see too often in schools across the country.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

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