Tennessee student sues after he was suspended for posting memes poking fun at his principal on Instagram
A Tennessee high school student is suing their school district, claiming their first amendment rights were violated after being suspended for posting three memes The postings playfully mocked the school principal, Jason Quick portraying him in various humorous scenarios Student posted three memes on their personal Instagram account, intending to add some levity to the principal’s personality but was suspended
A high school student from Tennessee is suing his school district alleging it violated his first amendment rights after he was suspended for posting three memes on Instagram, poking fun at the school principal.
The memes depicted the principal in different humorous scenarios.
One showed Principal Jason Quick holding a box of vegetables with the text saying ‘my brotha’ and ‘on god.’
Another showed Quick in a dress with cat ears and whiskers, while the third saw Quick’s head superimposed on a cartoon character being hugged, from the online game ‘Among Us’.
The student posted these memes to his personal Instagram account as a lighthearted way to joke about the principal, who had been seen as overly serious, in an attempt to add some levity to the principal’s character.
A Tennessee high school student is suing their school district, claiming their first amendment rights were violated after being suspended for posting three memes about Principal Jason Quick.
The postings playfully mocked the school principal, Jason Quick portraying him in various humorous scenarios
The school handbook expressly prohibits students from sharing photos or videos that embarrass, demeaned, or discredited staff or students. Quick is pictured above
‘It was to lightly poke fun at a principal who was thought of as being a little bit overly serious and bring a little bit of levity to the personality,’ attorney Conor Fitzpatrick said. The identity of the student remains confidential.
School administrators suspended the student for three days claiming school policy had been breached.
The school handbook expressly prohibits students from sharing photos or videos that embarrass, demeaned, or discredited staff or students.
The district also introduced a social media policy in the 2022-2023 handbook, forbidding students from sharing posts deemed ‘unbecoming of a wildcat’ (the name of the school’s football team), however the latest handbook for 2023-2024 does not include such a stipulation.
Attorney Fitzpatrick argues the suspension of the student was overly subjective in that the student posted the memes outside of school hours, away from school premises and did not result in any disturbance at school.
The student posted three memes to their personal Instagram account, intending to add some levity to the principal’s personality but was suspended.
‘That’s the problem here, which is the school is trying to decide what students are and aren’t allowed to say about them, even when the speech doesn’t have an impact on the school day,’ Fitzgerald said.
‘Students have been making fun of their principal and teachers on their own time, as long as there have been schools and the mere fact that some of it is now on social media does not change the underlying first amendment principles, which is that if what you’re saying and doing doesn’t affect school, it’s not the school’s business,’ Fitzgerald said to Fox 17.
Fitzpatrick contends that students have been teasing their principals and teachers outside of school for some time, and the fact that some of it is now on social media should not alter the underlying first amendment principles.
Quick was the principal of Tullahoma High School
He asserts that if the speech or action does not affect the school environment, it should not be the school’s concern.
The lawyer even went so far as to cite a recent Supreme Court decision that declared schools cannot punish students for making such expressions that occur outside of school, particularly when they have no impact on the school environment.
The student is now seeking to have his suspension removed from his school record together with a revision of the school’s photo and video policy.’
Court papers suggest the principal pictured in the memes left the school at the end of the academic year.
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