An Oak Forest sophomore was handed a 5-day suspension last week for creating a Facebook
group bashing a teacher. His parents are threatening to sue, the
district acknowledges that it's wading into murky legal waters, and
frankly, everyone involved looks a little petty.
There are legal questions (does the school district have
jurisdiction in cyberspace?) and moral ones (isn't this a job for
parents?) and ones about the nuances of the law (when does just
being mean turns into a threat?).
But the more interesting question, and the one with
farther-reaching consequences, is this: When does the school day
end? I don't know, but it's definitely not when the bell rings at
As schools continue to fil roles that used to be considered
purely domestic territory, don't they expand their disciplinary
reach, too? Schools feed our kids breakfast and keep an eye on them
after school. They are the first line of public health
intervention, with required vaccines and sports physicals. They
teach our kids about sex, driving and baking a pie.
Many schools have made it clear that they consider anything that
happens on the way to and from school -- regardless of
whether it occurs on school property -- to be their business. And
every year, we read a handful of stories about students being
kicked off the soccer team for boozing at a party.
The district may have overstepped its legal bounds in suspending
Justin Bird. And they certainly look silly for doing it ("my
student was mean to me?!"). But I can't say I'm surprised. They
have a vested interest in both how their studients behave, and how
their teachers are portrayed publicly. This is the inevitable
result of school boards' increasing presence in the lives -- both
academic and not -- of their students.
What do you think? Does the school have the right to suspend
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