ACLU of Ohio Defends High School Student Expelled Over Parody Profile on MySpace.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HOLLAND, OH- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said today that it will defend the free speech rights of a student who was expelled for posting a spoof profile on MySpace.com, an online social networking site used mostly by teenagers and young adults.
“The profile was an obvious joke,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso. “If we are going to expel students for poking fun — even offensive fun — at a teacher or principal, our classrooms will be empty and our hopes to educate will be in vain.”
On Wednesday, April 26, the Springfield School Board, located in Lucas County outside of Toledo, will hear the expulsion appeal of Jessica Schoch. Jessica was expelled from school when administrators discovered a parody profile of the Assistant Principal she created from her home and her own computer on MySpace.com.
“Countless courts have recognized that the First Amendment allows students to write about schools and staff members so long as students are not disrupting class by creating these web pages using school resources or while the student is on the premises,” said ACLU of Ohio cooperating counsel Arnold Gottlieb.
Jessica has a 3.5 grade point average and is a member of the softball team. She has received some home education but has been unable to participate in extra-curricular activities since her expulsion nearly a month ago. According to Ohio law, the school board hearing will be the last before her expulsion is final.
“I have faith that the local school board will do the right thing and rescind Jessica’s expulsion,” Gottlieb said. “Schools have an obligation to teach students fundamental principles such as free speech and I believe the school board will honor the Constitution and right this situation.”
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