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Analysis Of Michael Naranjo 's ' The Rights, Nero Unified School District Violate And Free Speech?

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TO: Regina Stone-Harris
FROM: Robert Derner
DATE: January 21, 2017
RE: Michael Naranjo File
QUESTION PRESENTED: Did our client, Nero Unified School District violate Michael Naranjo’s right to free speech?
BRIEF ANSWER: Our client did not violate Michael’s right to free speech. Since his speech was directed towards the school community and was brought to campus, there is a sufficient nexus to justify the regulation of Michael’s speech.
FACTS: Nero High School student Michael Naranjo made a Facebook page entitled “Nero is Anti-Gay,” to protest the recent hiring of a teacher who authors an anti-LGBT blog. Membership of the page consists wholly of Nero students who have posted drawings and comments on the webpage. While the page was created
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478 U.S. 675, 683 (1986). In Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, the Court found that schools may restrict school-sponsored speech when the regulation is done in line with the school’s educational mission. 484 U.S. 260, 273 (1988). In the latest student speech decision, Morse v. Frederick, the Court found that a student may be disciplined for speech outside of the schoolhouse gate, at a school-endorsed function for speech promoting the use of illegal drugs. 551 U.S. 393, 397 (2007). Without a bright-line ruling from the Supreme Court, the circuits split on whether Tinker and its progeny are applicable to off-campus speech. Thomas v. Bd. of Educ., Granville Cent. Sch. Dist., 607 F.2d 1043, 1053 (2d Cir. 1979)(finding school authorities may not discipline students for satirical speech done outside of school); Boucher v. Sch. Bd. of Greenfield, 134 F.3d 821, 829 (7th Cir. 1998)(finding that the relevant test of applying Tinker is whether administrators believe the speech will disrupt school activities). Although circuits split on Tinker’s applicability to off-campus speech, the Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Circuits have determined Tinker does apply to such speech. The Fourth and Fifth Circuits have utilized an intent-based test, asserting that schools can restrict off-campus speech meant to reach the schoolhouse gate. Kowalski v. Berkeley Cty. Sch., 652 F.3d 56, 571-74 (4th Cir. 2011); Bell v. Itawamba Cty. Sch. Bd., 799 F.3d 379,
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