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ACLU Sues Indiana School That Expelled Students Over Facebook Posts

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Apr 27, 2012 9:20PM

Pan Xunbin /
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against a northern Indiana middle school that expelled three students over comments they made on Facebook. The girls say they were just joking around, but officials at Griffith Middle School say their comments violate bullying and harassment policies.

CBS writes:

One girl started by calling herself ugly, and that’s where the ugly speech began.

“Another girl said, ‘I want to kill all the ugly people,’ ” expelled student Kennedy Fortier said.

Kennedy said no one was serious about that, but it was part of a Facebook conversation that got her kicked out of school.

The ACLU says expelling the students is a violation of the First Amendment because schools "do not possess infinite reach into the private lives of their students.” The ACLU writes:

The students’ Facebook comments, which took place after school on their personal electronic devices, were clearly meant to be humorous, as evidenced by their repeated use of emoticons such as ;) and abbreviations such as LOL and LMFAO, and caused no disruption at school.

This so-called "emoticon defense" doesn't stick, according to cyberbullying experts, who told the AP that it doesn't matter if the intent was to joke around. The mother of one of the classmates targeted in the discussion said the conversation was "disturbing."

"When they're talking about putting someone in a bathtub of acid and lighting someone on daughter being the last person mentioned, I find nothing funny about that," she said.