An Indiana high school senior has been expelled for a Tweet he says was posted from home on his personal account.
"One of my tweets was, f--- is one of this f---ing words you can f---ing put anywhere in a f---ing sentence and it still f---ing makes sense," Garrett High School senior Austin Carroll told Indiana's NewsCenter.
The expulsion comes when Carroll is on the home stretch toward graduation. Carroll's mother Pam Smith said she doesn't agree with her son's Tweet, but doesn't agree with an expulsion either. To her, a suspension lasting several days is more appropriate.
Carroll says he doesn't think he should be punished by the school for what he posts on his own time and on his own computer. The student is finishing high school at an alternative school and will be able to graduate.
"I thought it was pretty funny, the school didn't think so, they thought it was inappropriate," Carroll told Indiana's NewsCenter. "I think it's inappropriate, too, but I just did it to be funny…. I just want to be able to go back to regular school, go to prom and go to everything that a regular senior would get to do in their senior year."
Carroll's expulsion follows another incident at an Indiana school in which two students faced similar disciplinary action in January for creating fake Twitter accounts impersonating their principal. Tweets from the accounts, the Indianapolis Star reported, were sexually and racially charged.
School districts across the country have implemented or are considering policies that opens dialogue on what the school's role is in social media and what action should -- or shouldn't -- be taken against what students and teachers post online outside of the classroom.
A bill that would allow schools to punish students for off-campus activities has advanced in the Indiana legislature, permitting schools to suspend or expel students for engaging in activities away from school and after hours that "may reasonably be considered to be an interference with school purposes or an educational function."
West Virginia recently adopted an anti-bullying policy that would punish students with detention or suspension for "vulgar or offensive speech" online if it disrupts school, and the U.S. Supreme Court last month let stand rulings that said schools could not discipline two Pennsylvania students for MySpace parodies of their principals that the students created at home.
A Kansas high school senior made the news when she tweeted disparaging remarks about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, posting to her account, "Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot." Emma Sullivan was called into the principal's office, reprimanded and asked to write the governor a formal apology. Sullivan refused, and Brownback later issued an apology for his staff "overreacting" to the Tweet.
Disciplinary action for disagreeable online posts are not unique to students. A Florida high school's "Teacher of the Year" was suspended last August for an anti-gay post he wrote on his Facebook page. On the west coast, a new policy at the Los Angeles Unified School District states that teachers can be disciplined for "posting inappropriate, threatening, harassing, racist, biased, derogatory, disparaging or bullying comments toward or about any student, employee or associated person on any website."
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