School Overturned on Instagram Suspension

There’s an interesting story out of a New jersey high school this week that has an important message for parents embedded in it, and overall the result is a surprise to many.

red-solo-cupLast year, a star high school athlete from Allentown NJ posted two photos to Instagram in which she was wearing an Allentown high school sweatshirt, off the school property and not during school hours, and she and another student appeared to be drinking alcohol. There is no indication how the authorities were alerted to the pictures, but once they were, they investigated and suspended the student from extracurricular activities for 30 days.

The penalty was appealed to the New Jersey Department of Education who last week overturned the decision (too late; it already happened) stating that “discipline can only be levied for incidents away from school grounds when it is necessary for a student’s safety, security and well-being and the conduct interferes with the orderly operation of the school.”

In summary, if a student is doing something away from school that the administrators don’t like, they are powerless to levy punishment unless the act is disrupting the school in some way.

We don’t condone what the student did, even if she wasn’t drinking alcohol which she never confessed to. We do caution teens and parents that minors should never post anything depicting improper behavior, or anything that might look like as much. She was guilty of at least one of those in this case.

Where does this leave parents? In charge – exactly where they should be. Schools aren’t going to stop underage drinking; nor are they going to keep kids from posting it on social media. That’s all on the parents.

Taking it one step further, in the words of columnist L.A. Parker writing in the Trentonian:

“Even worse, punishment offered no follow up, no counseling, or any other support for a teen shot with a beverage. The panel allowed [the student] an appeal but that served only as a matter of protocol.”

Parents, online or off, are in charge of the counseling and support of their kids, especially when they’re not in school. It’s up to you to talk to your kids about appropriate behavior.

The more things change…




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