Use of Twitter after school hours results in disciplinary action

Layla Sharaf, staff writer

Recently administrators have cracked down on student use of personal social media networks, namely Twitter. While the school argues they are legally entrusted with the safety of all students in and out of school, some students believe that they have their right to freedom of speech, particularly during the weekend.

Seniors Mitch Dempster, Brian Kraus and Sam Campbell along with junior Rachel Berman were recently reprimanded for their tweets or their inclusion in other student’s controversial tweets.

“The school’s administrators called me into the office,” said Berman. “Then they asked me about my tweets.”

After the students found out why they were getting called to the office, they questioned how the school had seen the tweets and why their rights were infringed upon.

“I think it’s against my rights and it’s unfair,” said Campbell. “It has affected me physically and mentally.”

Varsity soccer players Dempster and Kraus received a two-week suspension from playing in any of their games, including their senior night game.

“I’m very sad about not playing for three games,” said Dempster, “especially since I missed senior night.”

Both players regret their actions and advise fellow students and athletes to be careful about what they post on the Internet.

“Students should know what not to post,” said security specialist Brian Elliot. “Everything is in the SR&R packet.”

The Fairfax County Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook section on Internet Safety and Security outlines the extent of the administrations’ capability to take action to search and punish students for their activities on the Internet. The language of the handbook is somewhat vague in regard to social media and does not explain the exact parameters of the school’s jurisdiction over student’s online web pages and interactions.

“I don’t think it is fair that the school is going through my tweets,” said Berman. “It is my personal twitter and my tweets did not affect the school or any other student.”

However, administrators have maintained that they do not have a constant mechanism of going through student’s personal accounts and that they only look into them if they are brought in by non-staff members.

“We don’t go through student tweets,” said Principal Bruce Butler, “In all the cases that I can remember concerned students or parents have brought the tweets to us.”

“Usually there is no shortage of students who are concerned and turn tweets in,” said Elliot.