As the use of social media increases and becomes an integral part of nearly every student’s life, problems arise when student expression on these sites turns into threats against the school or other students, implicating both student safety and the speaker’s right to free speech. Facing a lack of Supreme Court precedent, school officials need guidance on whether and how to take action when a student makes threats on a social network—how to prevent any danger at school while respecting the student’s right to free speech. This Article provides that guidance. It develops an approach that combines the Supreme Court’s Watts “true threat” test and its Tinker “substantial disruption” test, argues that schools should be free to take liberal action on student speech to prevent danger at school, and lays out a model procedure. Schools that follow this procedure can respond to threatening student speech without infringing a student’s First Amendment rights.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_hughes/1/