Who Cares About the Constitution? MySpace Will Kill You!

July 25th, 2006 by Alex

Sigh. From today’s New York Post:

A revised draft version of the city Department of Education discipline code calls for harsh punishments - including expulsion - for students who post “libelous or defamatory material or literature” on the Internet.

Kindergartners to fifth-graders who disparage their teachers, principals or fellow students on the Web could face a finger-wagging parent conference or be suspended for up to 90 days, according to the proposed discipline code.

For students in sixth grade through high school, derogatory online postings would warrant an automatic suspension and could necessitate expulsion under the new rules.

The regulation would apply to personal Web sites, online diary entries or comments on popular social-networking sites like MySpace.com and Sconex.com.

Not that anyone at the DOE has anything better to do with their time or anything.

Oh, and by the way, as I noted in this article I wrote for Salon, this kind of thing is almost indisputably unconstitutional. A quote in that piece, from the director of the Student Press Law Center:

“In a public school, I believe the law’s pretty clear that the school does not have the authority to punish students for expression they engage in outside of school. There are really important fundamental reasons for that. At the very least, it’s a major usurpation of parental authority. Outside of school, parents have the authority to discipline their children … I think the problem is a lot of people simply presume that the Internet in effect becomes school expression, and I simply don’t believe it does. I think there are legally important distinctions, and very good policy reasons why the school shouldn’t have that authority.”

Other school districts, by the way, have already paid hundreds of thousands, if not millions, because of stupid policies like this.

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