According to an article in Teen People, students at Pope John XIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey will be suspended if it is discovered that they are maintaining “personal pages or blogs.”
Principal Reverend Kieran McHugh explains that he instated the rule in order to protect students from online predators. “I don’t see this as censorship. I believe we are teaching common civility, courtesy, and respect.”
While I think the principal’s heart is in the right place in terms of his desire to protect the children, I believe it is a flagrant violation of the students’ rights under the First Amendment, especially as the rule is far-reaching enough to include blogging that students do from their own homes. I personally think teens spill too much private information about themselves online and open themselves up to victimization, but if their parents permit them to have websites or blogs, and the students are updating from home, then the school really shouldn’t be involved. A school can always deny access to blogging sites at school using filtering software.
I think the school is on very shaky ground, and I hope students challenge the rule in court.