J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District
Juvenile Law Center filed a brief in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a student who had been suspended from school for creating a fake MySpace page outside of school hours that portrayed the student’s principal as a sex addict. The school claimed that the web page caused a serious disruption at school, despite a lack of evidence showing any actual disorder.
Juvenile Law Center argued that the manner in which the student mocked the principal was representative of normal adolescent chatter and that no one had taken the page seriously. Juvenile Law Center also argued that the punishment of out-of-school speech creates a risk that the government will punish simple, everyday communication between adolescents.
The Third Circuit overturned the suspension, stating that ruling in favor of the school district would “vest school officials with dangerously overbroad censorship discretion” and that although the content of the MySpace page was indisputably lewd, it was so juvenile that no reasonable person could possibly take it seriously.