California School Administrators Gone Wild!
Administrators in a Costa Mesa middle school are pushing the envelope by suspending students for viewing a website on their home computers:
A middle school student faces expulsion for allegedly posting graphic threats against a classmate on the popular MySpace.com Web site, and 20 of his classmates were suspended for viewing the posting, school officials said.I think that the district is correct to suspend (pending expulsion) the student who constructed the website and is responsible for threatening the victim with bodily harm.
Police are investigating the boy's comments about his classmate at TeWinkle Middle School as a possible hate crime, and the district is trying to expel him.
According to three parents of the suspended students, the invitation to join the boy's MySpace group gave no indication of the alleged threat. They said the MySpace social group name's was "I hate (girl's name)" and included an expletive and an anti-Semitic reference.
A later message to group members directed them to a nondescript folder, which included a posting that allegedly asked: "Who here in the (group name) wants to take a shotgun and blast her in the head over a thousand times?"
Because the creator of a posting can change its content at any time, it's unclear how much the students saw.
"With what the students can get into using the technology we are all concerned about it," Bob Metz, the district assistant superintendent of secondary education, said Wednesday.
Metz said the students' suspensions in mid-Febuary were appropriate because the incident involved student safety. Some parents however questioned whether the school overstepped its bounds by disciplining students for actions that occurred on personal computers, at home and after school hours.
But as for the students who viewed the site and signed-on as part of the "social group," if the parents appeal the suspensions, I would be willing to bet that either the local or county school boards will overturn them and expunge the students' records.
I'm surprised that district superintendent Robert J. Barbot (Who almost certainly approved the principal's recommendations before the disciplinary notices would have been delivered to the parents.) would have given his OK to these sanctions.