School vs. bloggers

On his blog, Wesley Juhl joked about an irritating friend. “Kill Alaina!” he wrote. A month later, he was called to the dean’s office at Valley High School in Clark County, Nevada. For the blog post and another making a vulgar comment about a teacher, Juhl was suspended. His parents were called in for a conference. Administrators realized Juhl’s variance to attend Valley High had expired because he’d left the International Baccalaureate program as a senior; Juhl was transferred to another high school near his home. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:

Juhl, 18, is still wondering what authority allowed the Clark County School District to punish him. His journal was not a school assignment and was not posted using a school computer or a school message board.

“The dean told me that what I’d written wasn’t school appropriate,” said Juhl, who was Valley’s homecoming king this year and also was president of its drama club. “He said it wasn’t appropriate for a journal. I just feel like I’ve been violated, like they’ve punished me for expressing my personal opinion.”

The dean didn’t notify the police, suggesting the school didn’t think Juhl was making a real threat.

Another Valley High blogger, Angie Scaduto, also was questioned by the dean about a blog post which began: “I almost killed everyone today.”

The entry went on to explain all the things that had gone wrong that day, she said, and wasn’t a threat against anyone. She also was asked about things she’d written about her mother and the fact that she’d said she’d taken cold medicine during lunch one day at school.

“I kept asking, `What does this have to do with school?’ ” Scaduto said. “They never answered my question. I was completely shocked about it. They were my personal private thoughts and I was getting picked on for them.”

Well, your thoughts aren’t private if you post them online. But the only thing she did at school was take cold medicine. Apparently, Valley High has total tolerance for coughs, sneezes, sniffles and headaches.

If students are making death threats or planning to start an antihistamine ring operating out of the girls’ restroom, call the cops. (Preferably not the Goose Creek commando squad.) If teen-agers are rude, profane or “inappropriate” on their own time, it’s none of the school’s business.

Via Daryl Cobranchi.

Update: Bad enough if the principal is reading your blog. What about Mom? This could happen to you.

About Joanne


  1. Sigh,

    Another example of the idiotic numbnuts who control the school system where I live. They have the time to worry about bloggers who run sites w/out school resources (i.e. – on computers they own, and internet time they or their parents pay for).

    I graduated in 1981 from Valley High School, and I think a lot of my fellow graduates would be appalled about how bad this school has actually become (it used to be one of the top academic schools in the valley, more than 20 years ago), these days it’s one of the worst.

    I wonder how the dolts that run that place can find the time to waste looking for bloggers instead of working on improving academic achievement of the students who attend there?

  2. Cousin Dave says:

    Yet another story on the obsessive desire of some public school employees to be self-annointed PC police. Does anyone remember the old comic strip “They’ll Do It Every Time”? It was a chronicle of all of the little annoyances of life. It featured the tag line, usually in a balloon pointing at one of the characters: “URGE TO KILL!”. Today, if that strip was still being drawn, the author would probably be arrested.

  3. Hmmm … While I do agree that the administrators should have turned over the matter to the authorities if they took it seriously, you need to think a minute before you come down so hard on the side of the student.

    Granted, my experience is exclusively in a Catholic school environment where this treatment from administration would have been expected. I accept that the rules are probably different in a public school environment. Still, is this the way you think things should be? Should a student really be able to post vulgarities about a teacher in a public place with no fear of retribution from the school? Should you not be held responsible for what you do in public place (and what place is more public than the Internet?) when that reflects on the school?

    It’s like a kid saying “Hey, I can say or do anything I want over here about you in a very public manner, and YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!” Like it or not, once that gets around, it can be disruptive to a school environment.

    Judging by the earlier posts, the law may not be on my side. So be it; that’s part of the reason why my kids were all sent to Catholic school.

    Consider that this kid has learned a lesson “the hard way” which I have stressed repeatedly to my children and others over many years. “Nobody on-line can see that you were grinning or could tell that you were giggling while you typed; all they can see is your words. Written words take on a life of their own. They can be excerpted out of context, and they can be brought back to haunt and confound you, even if you forget you ever said them. Weblogs, e-mails and Instant Messages are places you have to be careful to avoid misunderstandings. If you’re not in a mood to be careful, you don’t belong there.”

    I apologize for straying a bit off topic, but it surprised me to see such venom directed against the school and none directed against the kid. I agree that private thoughts are no one’s business, but once YOU introduce them into the public domain, you should not be surprised by consequences.

    Enough soapboxing. I accept that I’m not current on the nuances of the law as it applies to kids in public schools and I invite comments from those who are.

  4. I disagree on the ‘kill’ comments. Particularly with the student who was attending Valley High, who was at the school as a privelage. Schools get a lot of flack for overlooking ‘warning signs,’ and considering the criticism that Columbine and others have received, they have every reason to react this way.

    In other words, kids need to learn how to express themselves better. Wanting to kill someone and being angry at someone are very different things. If you put your thoughts online, make yourself clear, and realise that if you are held responsible for what you say in public, you are not being violated (that claim especially bugged me).

  5. No, they most emphatically do not have “every reason to react this way”. The choice is not between kids dying in another Columbine and establishing a private school administration thought police.

    Variations on “I’m going to kill them!” are pretty common expressions, online and off, among kids and adults. They do not indicate murderous intent, and pretending that they do is not only dumb, it’s also completely ineffective at preventing violence. It might even cause more, as students become resentful, alienated by a hostile administration that capriciously and arbitrarily punishes good students for every random infraction-of-the-day.

  6. Then Q.E.D., kids ought to stop using the phrase “I’m going to kill them!” unless they literally mean it. People aren’t mind readers, and don’t know when someone means it or doesn’t. All they hear are the word. So stop saying the words.

    If you mean “I’m so angry feel like I want to hit someone!” then say that. Say “I’m so angry I want to explode!” Don’t say “kill” unless you mean “kill”. Or be prepared for someone to take you at your word.

    Just as no one can see that you’re giggling while you’re typing, no one can read what you’re really thinking while you’re talking.

    Say what you mean or mean what you say. And be prepared to live with the consequences. It’s called being an adult – behavior that is in very short supply nowadays.

  7. My god I could just die after hearing these comments! Woops, Geoff, Claire please be aware I am not really about to slit my wrists or jump off the nearest building. I bet ol Wesley would like to know who narked on him to the principal though.

  8. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    Geoff Matthews wrote:

    “In other words, kids need to learn how to express themselves better. Wanting to kill someone and being angry at someone are very different things. If you put your thoughts online, make yourself clear, and realise that if you are held responsible for what you say in public, you are not being violated (that claim especially bugged me).”

    So, if someone writes “First thing, let’s hang all the lawyers”, someone should report it to police as a crime in progress?

    Is this what PC zero tolerance has done to English lit teaching these days?

  9. It occurred to me that I should search the web for hate blogs about *me*! (It’s all about me! me! me!) But, alas, my name is too common.

  10. Its a wonder why no one has gotten pissed off and shot up the school just to spite the bastards. Maybe then they would have some respect for the privacy of others.

  11. Just a thought if Valley thought Wesley was such a threat, as Columbine was mentioned several times by the principal, than why wouldn’t they get him help if he was such a threat instead of sending him to another school, who was not informed of the so called threat, I know I am his mom. I agree that there are responsibilities of the school to protect the kids but lets not throw them away lets fix it!


  1. LAB-Y says:

    Write on your own time and get suspended

    These days, if you are a highschool student who writes on your own
    time, there is a good your school
    may suspend you or identify you as a problem student. Tough shit
    too, as there…