Law Office of Michelle Ball first amendment,school discipline Social Media, Texting, Schools And Discipline: Students Beware

Social Media, Texting, Schools And Discipline: Students Beware


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Last Updated on January 28, 2022 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

With the explosion of social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit, WhatsApp, and the like, along with almost constant texting and other electronic communication between students, schools have entered a new era of easy discipline.  Parents need to caution students to watch out!

Icons of social media sites in a grid
School personnel have many places they can look for easy evidence of student wrongdoing

Abundance of Evidence for Schools to Punish Students Online

It used to be that schools would hear a report of bad student actions (fights, drug sales, weapon, bullying on campus) and would only have traditional investigation techniques to rely on like interviews and student searches. It students covered it up, the school found nothing.  

No more.  Now schools have easy access to an abundance of evidence on the internet and phones.

Schools still have to conduct their version of a school discipline investigation, however, they have become much easier with the student’s voluntarily posting things which prove their guilt. Principals have easy access with social media.

Dumb Posts

I appreciate students of all ages and know that many are young and inexperienced (even in college), but students need to be smarter about social media, at least if they like attending school (maybe they don’t!). Too many dumb posts end in school discipline or expulsion from school.

Pistol bullets and hundred dollar bills
Students can post alarming things online with little thought of consequence.

For example, why are students posing on campus with a fake gun and calling out a student?

Why are students posting lists of people they will supposedly kill (even if joking)?

Why are they texting about drug sales and money exchanges (!)?

Why are students posting videos of their friends brawling at school? (You’re no friend to post that!)

These can get the students in the posts PUNISHED BY SCHOOLS!

These are dumb posts which never end well. Yeah, a student may be “cool” or whatever “cool-type word” students use now (lit, dope, GOAT?), but is it worth getting kicked out of school for a year?

How dope is a kid sitting at home with no friends as his friends are at school?

Serious vice principal image
Vice principals are all business when it comes to student wrongdoing

School Principals Don’t Get Jokes

I get sarcasm and irreverent humor. Schools don’t. Vice principals have no sense of humor for something they think is threatening or criminal. They will not err on the side of the student that said he would “shoot the teacher” (even if sarcastic). No way.

Student posts can be misinterpreted as creating substantial disruption or threats to a school, ending with a student expulsion recommendation.  

It Ain’t the Good Old Days

In the good old days (not that long ago- like the 1990s?), student statements would vanish the minute they were uttered verbally to another student and would never get reported or could not be proven.  No more.

Small girl with pigtails and phone smiling.
It ain’t the good old school days when students actions were not as easily monitored.

Statements online or on a student’s phone don’t disappear.  Even if deleted on one student’s device, they may remain on another student’s computer or phone where someone screenshotted them, and can come back to bite.

Who’s Looking?

Students can be up for expulsion for a Snapchat post which they thought disappeared, or which was “private.” Even if a friend in a private student group does not report something, their parent might.

Parents often look at their kids’ social media and are a huge source of reports for schools. An expulsion recommendation may result.

Students Be Careful Out There!

[originally written Oct. 17, 2012]


Student lawyer and advocate Michelle Ball assists students from her Sacramento office across the state of California in locations such as Monterey, Santa Cruz, Orange, Anaheim, Fort Bragg, Foresthill and many other places.