In Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., the Supreme Court takes on student free speech for the fourth time since it decided Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has filed an amicus brief in the case urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule a troubling lower court decision that would limit public school officials’ ability to address online student speech that originates off-campus. NSBA believes the physical location of a student’s speech is irrelevant in today’s socially distanced and social media-fueled world, adding that schools will be hampered in their duty to address harmful online speech--including bullying—if such a limitation remains.
NSBA has a variety of resources on the Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. case and its relevance for public schools and the 51 million students that attend them across the country.
“Today’s realities, including those we all face as a result of the pandemic, heighten the challenges around the impact of speech. No one wants to unnecessarily restrict speech as students learn to use their voices and offer their opinions. However, thanks to social media, off-campus, online messages have tremendous potential to disrupt on-site learning, threaten student safety, and cause significant emotional harm to students. The Supreme Court should continue the established practice of judicial deference to professional educators to address concerns over student speech and its impact on the school setting.” -- Anna Maria Chávez, NSBA Executive Director and CEO.
Friends of the Court
Following the Supreme Court ruling, Francisco Negrón, NSBA’s Chief Legal Officer, and Sonja Trainor, NSBA’s Managing Director of Legal Advocacy, discuss the implications of the decision for schools and school districts.