Student social media cyberbullying banned even off campus

Under CA AB 256, public schools may now suspend or expel students for bullying by an electronic act [“cyberbullying”] that originated off school grounds.  Bullying via an “electronic act” means the creation and the transmission of a communication by means of an electronic device to send texts or tweets or photos, that was originated on or off the school site.

According to Assembly member Garcia, the purpose of this bill is simply to clarify that when an administrator suspends or recommends expulsion of a student for bullying via an electronic act, the electronic act (the text or social network Internet Web site post, etc.) may not need to have been generated while at school, nor while coming to and from school, nor during a school-sponsored activity.

The author asserts that AB 256 is not inconsistent with how school administrators or the courts have interpreted state law as it relates to cyberbulling.  Students will not be suspended or expelled solely because of activities conducted away from the school site; there must be some type of impact on students, as specified under the definition of bullying.  The courts have ruled that disciplinary action as a result of bullying via a social network site is contingent on whether the action causes a substantial disruption to school activities or work of a school, regardless of where the action took place.  Otherwise, if a student is suspended or expelled and the activity is not found to have caused substantial disruption, it can then constitute a violation of freedom of speech.

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