Avery Doninger, a high school student in Connecticut, has civil rights actions pending in the US Second Court of Appeals. She and her mother sued high school principal Karissa Niehoff and superintendent Paula Schwartz after they removed Avery as class secretary.
Doninger lobbied the community to support a battle of the bands sponsored by the student council. Bizarrely, the administration responded to this by canceling the event. Doninger, 15, blogged about it, calling the administrators “douchebags.” Doninger was then banned from school office, even after apologizing, while another student who called Schwartz a “dirty whore” was given an award.
Doninger ran as a write-in candidate, won, and the school refused to accept it, and went so far as to ban t-shirts students were wearing in support of her. Clearly, the petty tyrants at the school are unacquainted with the concept of free speech.
The Doningers are appealing a decision by a judge to deny a motion for a preliminary injunction, and want an apology from the school for civil right violations and sharing of the secretary office with the administration backed candidate.
In this video, her lawyer, Atty. Jon Schoenhorn details why this case is so important. Until the Internet, schools had no right to punish students for what they did outside of school. Recently though, schools have been saying that the Internet is so pervasive that they have the right to censor students for things they do “outside the schoolhouse gates.”
Yet the doctrine on this has always been clear. Discipline can only be used if the conduct disrupts the “pedagological interests” of the school, something which clearly did not happen in this case. Yet these creeping and noxious infringements on freedom of speech continue. That’s why this case is worth following and supporting.
Andy Thibault’s Cool Justice Report has continuing coverage, and he helped organize the event.