Bullying is a serious problem that warrants thoughtful action by schools and policymakers. But attempts to remedy bullying should not trample on the free speech of students outside of school.
May 21, 2015
We commend Iowa lawmakers who voted last night in the Iowa House against legislation that would have expanded the authority of schools to monitor, investigate, and discipline students' constitutionally protected speech.
The proposed legislation would have expanded the authority of school officials to monitor and curb student free speech when it was outside school hours, off school time, and in a variety of electronic and social media.
Allowing school officials to monitor student communications 24/7—even when under the care and supervision of parents, an employer, a summer camp, or a church group—raises troubling free speech and due process issues.
The ACLU of Iowa has suggested alternative language to include in a bullying bill. We will continue to support the effort to provide kids in Iowa with a safe, nondiscriminatory school environment where civil and constitutional rights are protected.