Two seniors at Lacey Township High School went to a private shooting range over a weekend. They posted on Snapchat a photograph of some large guns and high-capacity clips. All of the guns were lawful. There was no mention of the school or any specific person. The posts, which were made over the weekend, were “private,” which is to say only people connected to the students could see them. One person complained about the post; there was no indication that any other students saw or were bothered by the posts. The school suspended both students for three days, in school and imposed a Saturday detention. The school lacks authority to impose discipline for off-campus speech; and, even if they had that authority, they cannot punish for off-campus behavior of any sort unless it materially and substantially interferes with the operation of the school. Because the speech in this case occurred off campus and did not constitute a significant disruption, the school should not have disciplined the students.
Conroy & H.S. v. Lacey Township School District
C.J. Griffin/Pashman, Stein, Walder, Hayden P.C.
April 10, 2019
United States District Court, District of New Jersey