(ConservativeSense.com) – A high school in Tennessee suspended a student last year for making fun of the principal on social media. The student is now suing the school, saying its actions were unconstitutional. The unnamed pupil filed a suit against Tullahoma High School in Tullahoma, Tennessee, in July, arguing that the suspension was unjustified because the jokes about the principal were made off-campus and did not cause disruption inside the school.
Principal Jason Quick called for an immediate 5-day suspension when he learned of the Instagram posts in which his face was emblazoned onto the body of an animated cat. In another picture, the principal is holding a box of food, and the words “my brotha” are superimposed in the background, while in the third picture, he is seen wearing a French maid’s outfit. The student said he was merely mocking Quick’s humorlessness.
Upon learning of the five-day suspension, the student suffered a panic attack, after which the suspension was reduced to three days.
The school is defending its position and said the pupil, known only as IP, breached school policy by posting pictures that “resulted in the embarrassment, demeaning, or discrediting of any student or staff.” Legal precedent, however, suggests the student may be successful in their claim.
In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. that educational institutions cannot punish pupils for non-disruptive, off-campus free expression. Lawyers for IP say their actions are “protected First Amendment expression because they satirized a government official and did not create material disruption, cause substantial disorder, or invade the rights of others at school.”
In the lawsuit, the pupil is seeking the expungement of the suspension and the extraction of what lawyers say are rules so vague they cannot be followed, particularly the requirement that students avoid behaving like “wildcats.” IP also wants the school to declare that it violated his or her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Jason Quick resigned from the school district earlier this year.
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