Feeds

Student's suspension for IM buddy icon upheld by US court

Ready . . . AIM . . . censor!

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Student speech in the US continues to take a beating.

The Supreme Court, in the infamous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case decided last month, signaled to the federal judiciary that it was open season on student speech. Indeed, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, argued that students should have no free speech rights whatsoever.

Justice Thomas' opinion carries no precedential weight, but the message was clear: this is a stern, paternalistic Court that will not tolerate horseplay from those punk kids.

Now the ripples from that case's jurisprudential cannonball have started to radiate. In a case decided last week by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, the court upheld a semester-long suspension because of a student's AOL Instant Messaging buddy icon against a First Amendment challenge brought on the student's behalf by his parents.

The school, Weedsport Middle School in New York, suspended the student, Aaron Wisniewski, after it came to the attention of school administrators that Wisniewski's AIM account displayed a crude drawing of a pistol firing a bullet at a person's head, with the caption "Kill Mr. VanderMolen." VanderMolen taught Wisniewski English at the time.

Wisniewski displayed the icon in his communications with AIM contacts - some of whom were also Weedsport students - for three weeks. Wisniewski never displayed the icon to the teacher in question or any other school official.

The school administration only became aware of the buddy icon after one of Wisniewski's classmates told the teacher about it and provided him with a copy. The teacher forwarded the icon to school officials, who suspended Wisniewski for five days and ordered a review of the situation by the superintendent.

During this time, a police investigator interviewed Wisniewski and concluded that the icon was meant as a joke, and that Wisniewski posed no real threat to the teacher or the school. A psychologist who evaluated Wisniewski reached the same conclusion.

The superintendent's review found otherwise, however, ruling that the icon was threatening, and not meant as a joke. The review also found that, although the icon was only displayed outside of school, it violated school rules and disrupted school operations. The reviewer dismissed the opinions of the investigator and psychologist, stating that Wisniewski's intent was irrelevant to the inquiry.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.