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Monday, February 04, 2013

Ind. Law - "The bill’s critics argue that it is a violation of students’ First Amendment rights and a burden to already-busy teachers and principals."

That is a line out of Jessica Contrera's story yesterday in the Lafayette Journal Courier, about HB 1015, which is currently in the Education Committee. More from the long story:

The bill takes aim at cyberbullies by allowing school administrators to punish students for out-of-school activities that interfere with school purposes or educational function. * * *

As the law stands now, schools can discipline students for “unlawful” out-of-school activities against other students or teachers. HB 1015 would broaden that to any “delinquent, criminal or tortious” act.

Supporters of the bill say it would provide school administrators with the legal support they need to properly discipline online bullies. The bill’s critics argue that it is a violation of students’ First Amendment rights and a burden to already-busy teachers and principals. * * *

By giving the school permission to punish for acts that are “tortious,” students can be disciplined for defamation, or intentionally saying something false about a person to harm his or her reputation.

The bill also allows students to be penalized for “juvenile” acts. Indiana University law professor Daniel Conkle said since the word juvenile is not specifically defined in Indiana law, administrators would have more leeway to determine what to punish someone for.

Indiana already has a cyberbullying law, but it is limited. It makes it illegal to harass another person using a computer network or other form of electronic communication. But the communication must be “with a person” or transmitted to the person through an “obscene message.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 4, 2013 01:12 PM
Posted to Indiana Law