A federal district judge has upheld the expulsion of a high school student who created an Instagram account targeting black students and school staff members with racist and derogatory comments.
Judge James Donato also upheld the suspensions of five students who “liked” or otherwise expressed approval of the posts. But he threw out the suspensions of four others who had merely followed the account or commented on posts that didn’t target specific individuals, as well as the suspension of a student who had merely read some of the posts.
The judge held that the Instagram account created off campus by a student had indisputably caused a disruption at Albany High School in Northern California last school year. He said his Nov. 29 decision was intended to resolve only free-speech issues. But he added that schools have a responsibility to protect students not only from acts of violence but also from harassment and bullying.
A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2017 edition of Education Week as Judge Backs Suspensions of Students Posting ‘Liking’ Online Racial Taunts