chapter  5
53 Pages

Student Discipline

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge. When Kara Kowalski was a senior at Musselman

High School in Berkeley County, West Virginia, school administrators suspended her from school for five days for creating and posting to a MySpace.com webpage called “S.A.S.H.,” which Kowalski claims stood for “Students Against Sluts Herpes” and which was largely dedicated to ridiculing a fellow student. Kowalski commenced this action, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Berkeley County School District and five of its officers, contending that, in disciplining her, the defendants violated her free speech and due process rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. She alleges, among other things, that the School District was not justified in regulating her speech because it did not occur during a “schoolrelated activity,” but rather was “private out-ofschool speech.” The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, concluding that they were authorized to punish Kowalski because her webpage was “created for the purpose of inviting others to indulge in disruptive and hateful conduct,” which caused an “in-school disruption.”