Students suspended for "liking" racist Instagram posts sue school

mgguy

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 26, 2006
478
1,019
Students suspended for "liking" racist Instagram posts sue school

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/students-suspended-racist-instagram-posts-sue-san-francisco-school/

"SAN FRANCISCO -- A California school district suspended a high school student after racist images that included nooses drawn around the necks of a black student and coach appeared on his social media site.

But a federal lawsuit says Albany Unified School District went too far when it also disciplined four Albany High School students -- three of them Asian -- who indicated they "liked" the posts on the Instagram account. The suit, which was filed Monday in San Francisco on behalf of the students, accuses the school district of violating students' free speech rights."
I saw this article yesterday and thought it might be an interesting topic for discussion. While the racist nature of the instagram posts is clear and deplorable, the school overstepped it's authority in disciplining several students who indicated they "liked" the posted racist comments. The school's action appears to violate the students' free speech rights. Your thoughts?
 
Last edited:

shinji

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2007
1,298
1,497
Clicking 'like' isn't the same as posting. A suspension is a bit harsh, and this:

The lawsuit claims the district brought suspended students before the student body at a "public shaming" session during which they were cursed and jeered.
...is way over-the-top. Sounds like the school wanted to overstep its bounds.
 
  • Like
Reactions: satcomer

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,358
UK
Clicking 'like' isn't the same as posting. A suspension is a bit harsh, and this:



...is way over-the-top. Sounds like the school wanted to overstep its bounds.
Liking a death treat is pretty serious.

Someone from my school got suspended for making a false pedophile allegation. Seems pretty similar in this case really.
 

Zenithal

macrumors G3
Sep 10, 2009
8,992
10,081
District's attorney can argue that the uploader/account holder violated California's penal code on criminal threats. However, the school abused their power by going after students who commented or liked the post. California's penal code for criminal threats is straight forward, but when applied to a case, the language becomes quite vague and there's a lot of leeway.

Going by past precedent of school districts being sued by students in the state, chances are the district will lose and expunge it from the records, but require the students to attend some form of peer counseling, and likely be asked to cover attorney fees or pay an undisclosed settlement.

The law becomes even more warped if the school in question is a private institution that receives zero government assistance. Though I recall a SD County based private school paying out a few hundred thousand in settlement after it began monitoring students' MySpace or whatever accounts more than a decade ago and suspending students for things they didn't like.

Historically and statistically, in the US at least, schools and or school districts, including named staff, lose civil court cases. School administrators tend to swallow their pride/ego and put their "balls" away as soon as they catch wind of a lawsuit. No union will save their ass.

That said, this kid could do with spending a summer on grandfather's farm with no internet or running water.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: JMacHack

citizenzen

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2010
1,433
11,628
I don't know if the school violated the students' free speech rights. I'm not an expert on the law. I'll leave it up to the courts to work this one out. But it is comforting to see I'm surrounded by so many legal experts. I would have guessed you were all a bunch of unemployed baristas. ;)
 

Zenithal

macrumors G3
Sep 10, 2009
8,992
10,081
Those are the Bernie supporters waiting for a handout. My legal knowledge is a very narrow scope of corporate law relating to the field I work in. That's enough for me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jkcerda

citizenzen

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2010
1,433
11,628
Those are the Bernie supporters waiting for a handout. My legal knowledge is a very narrow scope of corporate law relating to the field I work in. That's enough for me.
I'm a graphic designer. I can make a pretty nice brochure ... maybe even a spiffy annual report.
 

BeeGood

macrumors 68000
Sep 15, 2013
1,793
4,826
Lot 23E. Somewhere in Georgia.
The law becomes even more warped if the school in question is a private institution that receives zero government assistance. Though I recall a SD County based private school paying out a few hundred thousand in settlement after it began monitoring students' MySpace or whatever accounts more than a decade ago and suspending students for things they didn't like.
That's interesting. I would have thought that a private school would have a lot more disciplinary leeway than that, especially since many of them are selective.

Personally, I'm fine with the discipline handed out (expulsion for the kid making the posts and suspensions for the kids liking them).
 

skunk

macrumors G4
Jun 29, 2002
11,745
3,985
Republic of Ukistan
I know absolutely nothing about your field, but I presume most days you want to crack a bottle over a client's head.
Every day.

...however, since I'm now old enough to be their parent in most cases, I just send them to sit on the Naughty Step until they behave.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,007
16,449
The Misty Mountains
Students suspended for "liking" racist Instagram posts sue school

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/students-suspended-racist-instagram-posts-sue-san-francisco-school/

"SAN FRANCISCO -- A California school district suspended a high school student after racist images that included nooses drawn around the necks of a black student and coach appeared on his social media site.

But a federal lawsuit says Albany Unified School District went too far when it also disciplined four Albany High School students -- three of them Asian -- who indicated they "liked" the posts on the Instagram account. The suit, which was filed Monday in San Francisco on behalf of the students, accuses the school district of violating students' free speech rights."
I saw this article yesterday and thought it might be an interesting topic for discussion. While the racist nature of the instagram posts is clear and deplorable, the school overstepped it's authority in disciplining several students who indicated they "liked" the posted racist comments. The school's action appears to violate the students' free speech rights. Your thoughts?
A like in this case, is the same as an agree. Without putting too much thought into it, I'm ok with a school district trying to squelch expressions of lethal hate between their students.

Edit: Added in this case.
 
Last edited:

ibookg409

Suspended
Apr 20, 2016
612
7,356
Portsmouth, NH
A like is the same as an agree. Without putting too much thought into it, I'm ok with a school district trying to squelch expressions of lethal hate between their students.
I don't see the post in question in the article. Schools over react sometimes. A kid in my daughters school was suspended for wearing a t-shirt with a war memorial on it. It was a depiction of the statue with the boots and the M16 with the helmet on it. The kids father was a POW or killed in action. I forget which. Either way the school said the shirt "endorsed gun violence".

Idiotic.
 
Last edited:

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,007
16,449
The Misty Mountains
I don't see the post in question in the article. Schools over react sometimes. A kid in my daughters school was suspended for wearing a t-shirt with a war memorial on it. It was a depiction of the statue with the boots and the M16 with the helmet on it. The kids father was a POW or killed in action. I forget which. Either way the school said the shirt "endorsed gun violence".

Idiotic.
That may have been idiotic, agreed. If they don't want gun images in school it would have been better to send her home to change her shirt, not suspension. Unrelated, but funny to remember, back in the day, a friend got called to the principle's office for wearing a shirt that said "a little ***** never hurt anyone" with the depiction of a cute kitty. He had to change shirts, but did not get suspended. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Night Spring

yaxomoxay

macrumors 68040
Mar 3, 2010
3,584
24,447
Texas
A like is the same as an agree. Without putting too much thought into it, I'm ok with a school district trying to squelch expressions of lethal hate between their students.
I absolutely, totally, disagree with this. A Like is an acknowledgment, not an agreement. Add your Police Dept to your Facebook and you will see many likes whenever the police indicates that a crime has happened. Or if someone dies. Etc.
At the beginning a Like used to be an agreement, today a Like is just a sign that you found something interesting.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,007
16,449
The Misty Mountains
I absolutely, totally, disagree with this. A Like is an acknowledgment, not an agreement. Add your Police Dept to your Facebook and you will see many likes whenever the police indicates that a crime has happened. Or if someone dies. Etc.
At the beginning a Like used to be an agreement, today a Like is just a sign that you found something interesting.
While I agree that in many posts a like can mean different things, in this case when you see a posting of a picture of a student with a noose drawn in around his neck, liking this has very limited room if any for interpretation, such as the alternate, thanks for bringing your hate to my attention. ;) I don't see that at all. Here a like is an approval of the imagery. Feel free to disagree.
 

yaxomoxay

macrumors 68040
Mar 3, 2010
3,584
24,447
Texas
While I agree that in many posts a like can mean different things, in this case when you see a posting of a picture of a student with a noose drawn in around his neck, liking this has very limited room if any for interpretation, such as the alternate, thanks for bringing your hate to my attention. ;) I don't see that at all. Here a like is an approval of the imagery. Feel free to disagree.
I don't necessarily disagree, but then we also have to be very careful at assigning intent to something that is not explicit. As every Hillary fan knows ( lol ) proving intent is hard and it can't certainly be done by looking at a single click.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DrewDaHilp1

Night Spring

macrumors G5
Jul 17, 2008
13,064
5,083
I absolutely, totally, disagree with this. A Like is an acknowledgment, not an agreement. Add your Police Dept to your Facebook and you will see many likes whenever the police indicates that a crime has happened. Or if someone dies. Etc.
At the beginning a Like used to be an agreement, today a Like is just a sign that you found something interesting.
This is the first time I've heard that a "like" doesn't mean what it says -- you like the post, therefore you approve or agree with its content. Yes, I've seen people "like" a friend's post to indicate they've seen it, but still, if someone posts objectionable content, and you "like" it, that would indicate to me that you didn't find that content objectionable. I mean, why would anyone even acknowledge objectionable content? You either call out your friend for posting such a thing, or you ignore it.