Inquirer staff writer Jennifer Lin reports:
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia today hears arguments over whether a school district in Western Pennsylvania violated the free speech of a high school student, who was disciplined for posting offensive comments about his principal on Myspace.com.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2006 against the Heritage School District in Mercer County, arguing that it went too far in punishing Justin Layshock, now a 20-year-old college student.
A federal court in 2007 ruled in the student's favor. The decision was appealed by the district and supported in a friend-of-the-court brief by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Groups involved in First Amendment issues are closely watching the case for the critical questions it raises about the reach of a school in the Internet.
Layshock made a bogus profile on Myspace.com, the social networking Web site, that mocked his principal, Eric Trosch. The student made fun of the principal's large build and implied that he drank.