Michigan students suspended over MySpace photos
There's an interesting lawsuit playing out in Michigan, where four students were suspended from Belleville High School over photos on MySpace showing them with what appear to be guns, drugs and gang signs. The students sued, and a judge ruled this week that they must be reinstated because the school board didn't keep records of their suspension hearings. But the board plans to hold new hearings by the end of the week, and it's possible the students won't get to return to the same schools. A Detroit Free Press article is here.
This seems to be a slippery slope. You don't have to spend more than a few minutes on MySpace or YouTube to find kids from a school near you apparently engaged in, or at least talking about engaging in, criminal activity. (Remember the brawl after the City-Poly game a few weeks ago that stemmed from a dispute on MySpace.) But should schools be allowed to discipline students for stuff they post online in their free time? Does it matter if the photos or videos are taken at school (for instance, boxing in the halls at Mervo)? In Belleville, the photos were apparently taken after the students had left a school dance.
It certainly is instructive for teachers and administrators to look at the online diaries their students have posted for the world to see. But what is appropriate use of the information beyond that?