Four California students in the Bay Area were suspended for “liking” or commenting on racist Instagram posts directed at fellow students and a black school coach.
Now the students are suing the school district for overstepping its authority to punish them outside of school hours.
The suit raises two crucial issues: students’ rights to free speech and the meaning of a social media “like.”
Is a school allowed to punish a student for a non-school related activity? What if that activity isn’t just an expression of belief, but bullying of fellow students? And is an Instagram “like” akin to endorsement? Or do students mindlessly distribute “likes” and therefore can’t be held liable?
Eugene Volokh, professor at the UCLA School of Law, where he teaches First Amendment law
Marc Ecker, lecturer in the College of Education at Cal State Fullerton and former superintendent of Fountain Valley School District