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Family files lawsuit against school after their son was suspended for a Facebook post

Updated: Friday, March 14 2014, 10:38 PM CDT
Reported by Donna Kirker Morgan:

YORK -- A Facebook post is at the center of a lawsuit filed against the Central York School District by a student and his parents.  The 9th-grader was suspended for 23 days after commenting on Facebook about a bomb threat that had occurred earlier in the day.

The bomb threat occurred October 3rd at Central York High School. Students were sent home due to bomb threat.

At home, the lawsuit says the 9th grader posted  from  his own computer something to the effect:  “Plot twist: They don't find the bomb and it goes off tomorrow or Plot twist: Bomb not found. Goes off tomorrow.” according to the lawsuit filed the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania.

Attorney Corky Goldstein says there have been numerous cases that show the courts do not think statements made in social media are protected by the First Amendment.

Yet, the student’s parents argue the Facebook remark simply reflects their son's anxiety about the bomb threat and "was a misplaced attempt at humor.”

Also, Michael and Jill Lordan say the School’s Code of Conduct is so vague it violates their son's Freedom of Speech which they say did not disrupt school activities. They also claim in the suit that their son was denied his right of due process.

“Defendants’ punishment of R.L. (student) for his post which did not materially and substantially interfere with the educational process, threaten serious harm, encourage unlawful activity, or interfere with another individual’s right was a violation of Pennsylvania law,” the suit reads.

At a local pizza shop people thought the 23 days of suspension was too much, but say the district had to take some kind of action. Richard and Jennifer Lewis said it was a tough response in a day and age when there are terrible, scary things occurring in schools.

The courts have made clear that there is no First Amendment right to yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre. We believe that it should be equally clear that there is no right to "joke" about a bomb going off "tomorrow" at the high school. Not only did this cause understandable apprehension in the school community, it also caused the District to bring the Springettsbury Police Department back in to conduct a second investigation.. The student was provided with due process and, under the circumstances, his obvious misconduct could have justified much more severe discipline.  The District will vigorously defend it's right to protect the safety and well being of its students. Family files lawsuit against school after their son was suspended for a Facebook post


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