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Heartland reaction to SCOTUS ruling on school speech

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:02 PM CDT
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GOREVILLE, Ill. (KFVS) - It’s considered the most significant case involving student speech to land before the Supreme Court in 50 years.

The High Court Justices sided this week with a Pennsylvania high school cheerleader who was suspended for using obscene language on social media.

The ruling has school leaders across the country looking at what it could mean for students in the future.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Brandi Levy, a teenager, whose case will also affect schools across the country and here in the Heartland.

“So, we still get to protect kids and we still get to work with parents to make sure they’re safe,” said Goreville Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Webb. “Not only at school, but our in their homes.”

He believes the ruling is a win for both schools and students, and that this Supreme Court case better defines what schools can and can not do.

Webb also feels that schools still have some responsibility to educate everyone on social media apps.

“You have to educate kids. You have to educate parents and you have to make them understand that just because you think that Snapchat will delete your pictures, it’s always there,” said Dr. Webb. “If you put it out on electronic form, there’s always a footprint.”

What this means for schools across the state of Illinois?

“I think it’s going to be very well dictated now, on exactly what we need to do as schools, in terms of monitoring our students when they’re not at school,” explains Webb.

In writing the opinion for the court associate, Justice Breyer stated “Student Brandy Levy posts appeared outside of school hours from a location outside the school. She did not identify the school in her posts or target any member of the school community with vulgar or abusive language. Brandy Levy also transmitted her speech through a personal cellphone, to an audience consisting of her private circle of Snapchat friends. These features of her speech, diminish the school’s interest.”

Levy, 14 at the time, was a student athlete.

Webb weighs in on this aspect of the case.

“Well, I think we hold our student athletes to a higher standard and I think that’s what was going on in this case,” stated Webb. “They’re holding this child to a higher standard because she was on an extra curricular team.”

Webb said Goreville schools already monitor cyber bullying and speech outside of school.

He believes this will continue and students could learn a lesson from the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“I think this is a great lesson to kids, that no matter what you do, no matter what you think about a particular app, they’re all relatively dangerous and everybody needs to learn how to use them.”

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