The students circulated images of their legally owned firearms on social media during a weekend, while away from school.
“The lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday against the Lacey Township School District and school administrators in both their official and individual capacities, alleges the teens had their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights violated by the suspension.”
Court documents outline that one of the boys placed pictures of the two seniors while on an outing with family not on school grounds.
When the students returned to class on Monday, they were suspended by administrators who said the pictures would cause a disruption. However, on Snapchat, the platform deletes images after 24 hours.
Before they were suspended, neither of the young men had been disciplined by school officials for anything more than being tardy on a few occasions.
Rumors of the boys’ suspension circulated on social media almost immediately. It was picked up by local news outlets, which caused the school to lie and deny it had disciplined the students for their actions.
“When I was pulled into the principal’s office for something I shared with my friends privately, outside of school, over a weekend, it felt like I had no place where I could truly speak freely,” said H.S., the student who created the Snapchat post. His name was withheld because he was a minor at the time of the suspension.
The ACLU is seeking a statement added to the student’s permanent records that their rights were violated.
The group is also demanding that school policies be revised to state that public schools can’t punish students for exercising their First Amendment rights while off campus.
“The technology for communicating ideas may change, but the fundamental principle remains the same: young people have the right to express themselves, and, with rare exceptions, they shouldn’t face punishment by school administrators for it,” said CJ Griffin, an attorney for the students.
What sort of ‘rare exceptions?’