PHILADELPHIA - (Mealey's) In a pair of orders issued April 9, the Third Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals agreed to rehear two cases en banc, both of which pertain
to students' in-school discipline for their online behavior that occurred off
school grounds (J.S., a minor, through her parents Terry Snyder; Steve
Snyder v. Blue Mountain School District, et al., No. 08-4138; Justin
Layshock, a minor, by and through his parents, et al. v. Hermitage School
District, et al., No. 07-4465 and 07-4555; 3rd Cir.).
Third Circuit panels issued
opinions in the cases on Feb. 4. In Layshock,
one panel held that a school's discipline of a student for his online behavior
violated his First Amendment free speech rights and that the school's authority
did not reach to his off-campus behavior.
In Blue Mountain, a different panel ruled that a school district
acted within its authority by disciplining a student for creating an online
profile that alluded to "sexually inappropriate behavior and illegal conduct"
by her principal because the student's behavior "threatened to substantially
disrupt" the school.
The losing side in each case
moved for rehearing, citing the seemingly contradictory ruling in the other
case, among other case law on the topic of students' right to free speech.
The orders state that the
Feb. 4 opinions and judgments in each case have been vacated. Both cases are set for rehearing on June 3 at
[Editor's Note: Full
coverage will be in the April issue of Mealey's Cyber Tech and E-Commerce
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