ACLU of Ohio Successfully Defends Student’s Free Speech

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
April 27, 2006 12:00 am

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Eighth Grade Girl Who Created Satiric Profile Is Reinstated

HOLLAND, OH — The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today applauded a decision by the Springfield School Board to reinstate eighth-grade student Jessica Schoch. Schoch was not allowed to attend school or participate in extracurricular activities after school officials discovered a profile that parodied a school administrator.

“We are pleased the school board ultimately recognized that defending a lawsuit over its actions would have been time-consuming, costly to taxpayers and most importantly — unsuccessful,” said ACLU of Ohio cooperating attorney Arnold Gottlieb.

The ACLU of Ohio represented Schoch at a meeting of the Springfield School Board meeting last night, arguing that the profile was free speech and that it was an issue for her parents rather than the school because she created the profile at home on her own computer. is an online social networking site used mostly by teenagers and young adults.

Cases involving online journals, profiles and other Web sites have become more common as use of the Internet has evolved. Various courts have ruled that students may write about their school or those who work at their school as long as it is not done with school equipment or during class hours.

“Any reasonable person would see that this was merely a joke gone awry. Jessica’s parents have responded to the situation and have disciplined her and curtailed her internet use,” added Gottlieb. “Many cases involving students authoring online sites parodying or complaining about school officials have sprung up around the country. We hope this is a clear signal that schools may not punish students for exercising their free speech rights outside of the school on their own time.”

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