Do schools have the right to punish cyberbullying that occurs off school grounds?

A cyberbullying incident that led to a lawsuit against a school really got me thinking about how much control a school has over online bullying that takes place after school hours and off school grounds.

A video was posted on youtube, documenting about twenty Beverly Vista Middle School students who were bad mouthing a female classmate. School officials learned of the online video and suspended the student who uploaded it on the grounds that it was cyberbullying.

The student then filed a lawsuit against the district claiming that it doesn't fall under the schools jurisdiction because it was off campus.

What do you think? Do schools have the right to punish online bullying acts that takes place after school hours and off school grounds?

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I read that "Schools may have failed the test but that's because they were the only ones who showed up for the test." This case is same old stuff, different day. We cannot be the moral police of the universe nor should we -- but how can we stand by when no one else seems to be willing to say, "Stop that. Now." ?
I'm not sure either, but I think that if schools aren't allowed to punish bullying after school and off school property, they should at least be responsible for awareness and education of bullying issues by including it in the curriculum. That way they are proactively addressing the situation, making students aware of the consequences of their actions. The parents should be responsible for the discipline aspect and the punishments.
As I said in the beginning of this discussion--teachers must be aware of what can go on when starting blogs, wikis, social networks in the classroom that their students can access at home--that's what is going to get teachers i real trouble. Kids and teachers needs to be educated.
Nancy, do you have first hand experience with this? Have you ever initiated a blog where the students ended up carrying out abusive or unhealthy behaviors?
Kiwi, Longer answer-- I was threatened with a copyright lawsuit by a "famous" tech presenter about 12 years ago. I was naive, just starting to present nationally and wanted to post an exercise of his in one of my workshops (with attribution)--I asked his permission, he threatened, I cajoled and all was settled. BUT it really scared me and made me aware of all copyright issues as well as responsibilities I had toward my students SO I am extra cautious.

At the beginning of the year I get parent permission for all things computer related--posting student image, posting student work, logging, penpals, email, etc etc. I also teach my kids about copyright and safety and what we expect with the blogging. I do plan to refocus on a "digital footprint" curriculum next year--posting inappropriate photos, cyerbullying, etc.

So quicker answer--NO, never had a bit of trouble. Fifty students grades 4-7 have blogged for almost three years and I've only deleted 2 posts--one diary-like stupid post and one about "World's Worst Serial Killer Ed Geins: A Cannibal"!!! I look and respond daily, so I'm always aware of what's going on. As I said--thousands of teachers are setting thing up and don't have a clue what could go wrong--they are the one's geting fired.
Thanks for sharing, Nancy. Plagiarism is a major issue when using the Internet as a learning tool. A lot of maintenance. It's so important to go over copyright and safety as you said, along with what constitutes plagiarism and the repercussions and how to properly reference and credit. Many students just pull their content from the web, do a lot of copy and paste, change a word or two, claim it as their own, and think it's all harmless or they won't get caught. A lot of the time, they don't even know how exactly they've plagiarized.

Great blog by the way!
According to Tinker v. DesMoines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Distr., the school can discipline behavior that occurs off campus if it "foreseeably creates a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment."

I think it is only a matter of time that school boards start adopting policies on technology issues away from campus. Unfortunately, the courts have not caught up to us!

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