Klein v. Smith, 635 F.Supp. 1440 (Dist. Me. 1986)
A high school student made a vulgar gesture to a teacher off-campus and after school hours. School officials suspended the student for ten days for "vulgar or extremely inappropriate language or conduct directed to a staff member." The student sued, claiming that the suspension violated his First Amendment free-speech rights.
Whether school officials can discipline a student for engaging in vulgar behavior that occurs off campus and after school hours.
In his decision, Judge Gene Carter held that school officials lack authority to punish a student for conduct that does not occur on school grounds or during the school day.
The court noted that the "conduct in question occurred in a restaurant parking lot, far removed from any school premises." The court found that the school officials could not establish that the vulgar gesture would adversely affect the orderly operation of the school.
"The First Amendment protection of freedom of expression may not be made a casualty of the effort to force-feed good manners to the ruffians among us."
Thursday, December 5, 2013 | 01:00:48