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Once the court has determined that a student's off-campus speech was susceptible to regulation by the school, it applies Tinker to evaluate the constitutionality of the school's imposition of discipline. Under Tinker, schools may restrict speech that might reasonably lead school authorities to forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities or that collides with the rights of other students to be secure and to be let alone.
C.R., a student in the Defendant Eugene School District 4J (the “School District”), was twelve years old when he was suspended from Monroe Middle School for sexually harassing two younger students. The incident that led to his suspension was the last in an escalating series of encounters with two younger students at the school. It occurred about five minutes after school let out, a few hundred feet from campus. C.R. challenged his suspension in district court under the First Amendment, arguing that because the harassment occurred off-campus, in a public park, the school lacked the authority to discipline him. C.R. also challenged his suspension on due process grounds. The district court rejected C.R.'s claims and granted the School District's motion for summary judgment. C.R. timely appealed.
The Court held that the school district was properly granted summary judgment because the district had the authority to discipline the student for his off-campus, sexually harassing speech as the speech occurred between students, in close temporal and physical proximity to the school, on property that was not obviously demarcated from the campus itself, and a school could act to ensure students were able to leave the school safely without implicating First Amendment rights of students. Moreover, the Court held that the district's decision to suspend the student for two days for sexual harassment was permissible under Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506, 89 S. Ct. 733, 21 L. Ed. 2d 731 (1969). The suspension was also permissible under the First Amendment. Rejecting the student’s due process claims, the Court held that taken in light most favorable to the student, the uncontroverted facts showed that he was provided the informal procedures that the Constitution requires for a two day, out-of-school suspension. The Court further held that the student failed to show that he has a substantive due process interest in maintaining a clean, non-stigmatizing school disciplinary record.