C.R. v. Eugene School District 4J, --- F.3d --- (9th Cir. 2016).

First Amendment; Free Speech Rights - Student expression off campus, sexually harassing speech

General Interest to School Officials
Case: C.R. v. Eugene School District 4J, --- F.3d --- (9th Cir. 2016).
Date: Thursday, September 1, 2016

The school district had the right to suspend student C.R. for off-campus, sexually harassing statements he made toward two younger students as they were walking home from school. The Court found that the suspension did not violate C.R.’s First Amendment free speech rights because his speech was tied closely enough to the school to permit its regulation (in other words, a “nexus” to the school existed). It then found that “because the harassment happened in such close proximately to the school, administrators could reasonably expect the harassment’s effects to spill over into the school environment.” Based on this, the Court held that the school could take reasonable disciplinary action against C.R. The Court further held that the school did not violate C.R.’s procedural or substantive due process rights by imposing the suspension.

This case is not binding in Illinois, however, it reflects the increasing trend of courts to recognize the right of school districts to discipline students for certain misconduct that occurs off-campus.