Milwaukee, WI asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Education Law for Wisconsin

Q: My school is threatening that if i talk to 1 specific person on school grounds ill get a ticket and in trouble can they?

i am being accused if being in a fight with a female at my school. i was suspended for 4 days i hen had a meeting with the assistant principle and they told me if i talk to her again on school grounds that they will have me suspended or expelled. i never signed anything saying those were the conditions i was coming back to school on. Are they legally allowed to do that i fell its going against my right of freedom of speech and who i can talk to. Please help

1 Lawyer Answer

Emmanuel Muwonge

Answered
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Wauwatosa, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: While you do have rights of speech as you clearly articulate, those rights of speech must be contextualized. You must remember that the school as an institution has rules and regulations governing the conduct of students like you. Schools usually design their rules and regulations on the basis of the rights and privileges the US Constitution affords you as a matter of law. Further, those rules and regulations are designed to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students are protected as a matter of course. School officials are vested with reasonable discretion to carry out decisions that enhance, protect and maintain a level of security and decorum calculated to ensure the wellbeing of staff and students on school premises. While you certainly have freedom of speech rights that you may exercise at your discretion, those rights must be contextualized. For example, you may not disrupt class simply because you have and are exercising your Constitutional right of Free Speech. If another student does not want to talk to you, and if your talking to that student has given rise to disciplinary issues and or, you were cautioned and or warned not to engage in such activity for reasons I am certain the school has already articulated to you, your Constitutional Right of Free Speech notwithstanding, you may not engage the other student by talking to that student simply because you have a protected Constitutional Right of Free Speech.

Please keep in mind the fact that, according to you, you were involved in a fight with a female student; that said fight led to your being suspended for four (4) days from school and that you met with the "assistant principal and they told me if i talk to her again on school grounds" you would be suspended or expelled from school. There is a reason they qualified the location (school grounds) of the prohibited speech to the other student. The school is telling you that while on school premises, you may not engage in certain prohibited activity which, in this case, is talking to the other female student with whom you had an altercation leading to your suspension for four (4) days.

You may wish to consult with a lawyer who does work with juveniles so that your specific circumstances may be evaluated especially since this is neither legal advice nor is this the optimal environment to consult regarding such a serious matter that has the potential to derail your educational pursuits which, if it were to regrettably happen, has the potential to harm your future endeavors.

I hope that this response helps you get oriented and postured to proceed beyond the circumstances you have articulated.

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