Student faces expulsion over blog post

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

A 17-year-old student faces expulsion by the Plainfield School District in Plainfield, Illinois as a result of blog posts he made on xanga.com which were critical of the school staff, alleging bullying and intimidation. The student has already been suspended for 10 days for the "inappropriate comments" and "threats" the school felt he had expressed on his blog. The posts were not made on school time or with school equipment.

On May 1, the student posted the following message that apparently initiated the suspension:

"dear plainfield school district 202:
i know you read this. and you suck. suspend me or what ever you would like to do. but this is my fuckin web site and i can put what ever i want on it. kinda goes with the first amendment. by suspending kyle again for his xanga you guys are pathetic and totally irrational. first amendment you fucks. freedom of speech. and who the fuck are you to say what some one can do from there own personal computer. one more thing kiss my ass."

On May 2, the student continued his passionate rant, giving some background to the controversy:

"you are bully's. I feel threatened by you. if you don't like what you see here then do not come here its that simple. I'm pretty sure when you suspended Sam you brought her to tears, you are a bully and you make me sick. there's nothing you can do about us posting about parties we've been to and how much liquor we had or how much pot was smoked, the police need to do a better job, you are not the police. and how is it that you feel threatened what was said that was so threatening. I feel threatened by you, I cant even have a public web page with out you bullying me and telling me what has to be removed. where is this freedom of speech that this government is sworn to uphold? none of this is posted at school, its all posted from our home computers, and once we step foot into our homes we are not on school property any more. you are just power hungry, don't you ever think? did you stop to think that maybe this will make parents angry that you are bullying their children around? did you ever stop to think that maybe now you really are going to have a threat on your hands now that you have just pissed off kids for voicing their opinions? did you ever stop to think this will start a community backlash? The kids at Columbine did what they did because they were bullied. In my opinion you are the real threat here. None of us ever put in our xanga's that they were going to kill or bring harm to any one. we voiced our opinions. you are the real threat here. you are depriving us of our right to learn. now stick that in your pipe and smoke it."

Attorney Carl Buck, who feels the school authorities have overstepped their boundaries, says, "The district is going to take away the student's education for exercising his freedom of speech... I feel like they are trying to control his freedom of speech. ... He is saying, 'You can't bully people and we have a right to object and you can't throw people out of school for voicing their opinions.'"

Other students at the school posted messages of support in their own Xanga blogs. A blogger named Meghan wrote, "As Americans, we have the right to speak our mind." Another student, Heather, who found out about the possible expulsion through the local news, wrote that "first of all, Xanga is outside of school ... second of all ... there was no threat towards anyone on his posts."

In a related case in March 2006, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Alaska high school acted improperly by suspending a student for carrying a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" across the street from the school.

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