Nicole Williams, a student at Scott High School in Northern Kentucky has been suspended for posting video of a hallway fight on Facebook. The student was not involved in the fight, and did not video it. She received a copy of the video from another student and decided to post it.
Williams and others were concerned that school officials didn’t act quickly enough to diffuse the situation. The school is apparently more concerned, however, with punishing the messenger – Ms. Williams. When Williams first posted the video, school officials told her to remove it or she would be suspended. Williams refused, and the school made good on its threat.
And that’s why the school officials should attend a civics class. Because they seemingly don’t know about the First Amendment. As a public school student, Williams is protected by the First Amendment. And the school can’t ignore her rights just because it feels like it. In 1969, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Tinker v. Des Moines, held that a public high school could not restrict a student’s First Amendment rights unless the speech disrupted the educational process.
“Embarrassed school officials” by any reasonable reading of the case, does not constitute a substantial disruption to the educational process. And no school should use its power to discipline a student as means to cover up incidents that may make the school look bad. Whoever taught Nicole Williams’ Civics class did a great job. It would be nice if the Scott administrators brushed up on the subject.