HS Student Suspended for Personal Website


Case Type:

Actual.

Exigence:

Sixteen year-old Brandon Beussink developed a personal website in which he complained about and made fun of the administrators and teachers of Woodlawn High School in Marble Hill, Missouri. The site also urged students to write the school to complain about the poor quality of the school's official site. When the school asked him to shut down his site, he immediately did so. Nevertheless, he was suspended for ten days. Due to these absences he was failed in all his courses that semester. With the help of the ACLU, he is suing the school, demanding a chance to make up the work so he can graduate on time.

Audience:

The trial court; you, the general public.

Possible
Constraints:

The Freedom Forum reported that the webpage contained the following language:
    "Brittney & Brandon's Kick A-- Home Page!!," read: "Please visit our F----D UP High School, 'Home of the f----d up faculty members from HELL!' Don't forget to e-mail our . . . principal and tell Delma Farell that her page sucks. . . . Why our school is f----d up, you ask? Well, where do I start. . . let me see . . . number one, the students are treated like they are lower than dirt, and are constantly reminded of this. If one of the faculty members do something which can be upheld by the court, a new rule pops up in the school policy. No one knows where it came from, but it seems as if it's been there for ages. Then they send the people who it affected apology letters!! What a bunch of s---!! Well, I guess you don't want to know the whole story (I sure wouldn't), so I guess that is enough about that!"
Reporting/opinions on the incident: The high school's homepage.

The Supreme Court's decision in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, and Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Community Sch. Dist., courtesy of Thomas Tedford's Freedom of Speech website.

Decision:

On December 28, 1998, the District Court issued a preliminary Order the school not to take the suspension into account, or to otherwise punish Beussink for his webpage.

Related
issues:

Harm to society
Offense
Internet
Schools


Notes:

None.


For help
with these categories.

Copyright © 1998 Jean Goodwin. All rights reserved.
jeangoodwin@nwu.edu
Last updated 4 January 1999
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