KCL partner Andra Hutchins was quoted in “Education lawyers decipher U.S. Supreme Court cheerleader decision” in the July 5 issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Education law attorneys were hopeful that the Court’s decision in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. would provide clarity to the boundaries of a school’s authority to regulate speech.
The Court concluded that two social media posts in which B.L., a cheerleader, expressed frustration at not making the varsity cheerleading squad during her sophomore year in high school were entitled to First Amendment protection. One of the posts showed B.L. and a friend with middle fingers raised and bore the caption: “F**k school f**k softball f**k cheer f**k everything.” B.L. was suspended for posting the vulgarity-laced tirade on Snapchat.
Andra weighed in on the Court’s decision to uphold the cheerleader’s First Amendment challenge stating the case is a “step forward” in limiting a school’s reach to control student speech. She further noted “I’m not sure it’s a big enough step forward. There will always be a [recognized] interest in schools regulating off-campus speech if it materially disrupts the educational experience or substantially and negatively impacts the rights of others. But the reality is there will always be inherent risks in students using social media to vent frustrations or speak their minds.”