CHICAGO -- The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting the expulsion of three eighth-graders in northwest Indiana for joking on Facebook about which classmates they would kill.
The ACLU filed a complaint in federal court in Hammond, Ind., on Wednesday contending the 14-year-old girls' freedom of speech was violated when the Griffith Public Schools expelled them over a lengthy conversation on Facebook.
According to the complaint, the conversation went from the pain of cutting oneself while shaving to the girls' friendship, before shifting to which of their classmates they would kill if given the chance.
The ACLU says the girls engaged in "teenage banter" and the conversation could not have been interpreted seriously. The complaint noted that the girls repeatedly used "emoticons" that indicated they were joking.
The three girls were initially suspended from school for 10 days in January after a parent gave a copy of the Facebook conversation to the principal of Griffith Middle School.
The girls were sent home immediately and later called in for an expulsion hearing in February. An examiner found that the girls' behavior violated the school's policy concerning bullying, harassment and intimidation. The expulsion is to last until August, according to the complaint.
The girls have been allowed to take all necessary tests and will be allowed to graduate to ninth grade. But the ACLU notes that at least one parent has spent nearly $1,000 on home schooling, while another girl was unable to get admitted to an alternative school.
A representative of the school district was not available for comment.
(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services