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DoE’s New Discipline Code Would Violate Students’ Right To Speak Freely Off-Campus, NYCLU Says

At a public hearing this evening the NYCLU will present objections to the proposed student disciplinary rules promulgated by the Department of Education, arguing that the rules sweep too broadly by attempting regulate what students are allowed to say off-campus and during out-of-school hours.

“Our courts have made it clear that school officials may not punish students for expression that takes place outside of school, whether they like that expression or not,” said Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg, who will present the testimony. “But the new school discipline code gives schools a mandate to punish students for statements posted on the internet or stated anywhere else outside of school. Such overreaching is unconstitutional under the First Amendment and misguided as a matter of public policy.”

The NYCLU will also argue that as the DoE adopts a new discipline code it must simultaneously establish clear rules of school governance that give principals the authority to direct the conduct of school safety agents within their schools.

“Too often, school safety agents who are assigned to schools attempt to extend their authority beyond safety issues to enforce general school rules of student conduct, dress, and deportment,” said NYCLU Field Director Udi Ofer, one of the authors of the NYCLU testimony. “Enforcing such general rules should be the province not of police officers but of school principals. But if NYPD personnel do step in, then they must do so only at the direction and subject to the authority of principals.”

The hearing will take place this evening from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the New York City Department of Education, Tweed Courthouse, at 52 Chambers Street, in the 2nd Floor Conference Room.

Click here to read the NYCLU’s testimony. (Requires the free Adobe Reader.)

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