U.S. 2nd Cicruit
Court of Appeals
Gets Another Chance
To Right Wrongs
Perpetrated By Douche Bag School Bosses
Jan. 12, 2010
Moynihan Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, N.Y.
The case of Avery Doninger v. Niehoff and Schwartz (sometimes referred to as "The FAMOUS Douche Bag Case" is scheduled to be argued before the United States Court of Appeals in New York on January 12, 2010 at 10 a.m. in the 9th Floor Ceremonial Courtroom located in the Moynihan Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, N.Y.
The arguments will encompass both sides' appeal of aspects of the case by the former Burlington high school student against the Lewis S. Mills High School Principal and former Region 10 school superintendent Paula Schwartz.
The school officials' appeal will be heard first, involving the schools' ban of T-Shirts worn by students that stated "Support LSM Free Speech" and "Team Avery." The federal district judge (Mark Kravitz) ruled that banning of the shirts did potentially violate Doninger's first amendment rights and scheduled the case for trial. The school officials then appealed. The second part of the appeal, brought by Doninger, involves the novel question whether schools can punish students for impolite on-line comments written on the internet, even, as here, when they do so from their own home. Judge Kravitz had ruled that the internet postings were different than remarks published in other media and therefore could be punished by school officials if it was reasonable to believe that the comments might be read by school officials. In this case, the on line journal posting, which referred to unnamed officials in the superintendent's office as "douchebags", was found many weeks later by the superintendent's adult son, a lawyer, who happened to be searching his mother's name on the internet. Avery was removed from her elected position as secretary of her class, and forbidden to run again for the position as a senior.
This is the first case to reach the appellate level on whether impolite or "offensive" language by students can be subject to school discipline. Previously, schools were barred from having any authority over student expression that took place outside the school environment. Avery's argument is that Judge Kravitz' ruling in favor of the school officials must be reversed, and that the ruling on the t-shirts should be affirmed.