Jump to Content

Oregon Child Advocacy Project


The Limits of School Authority

Public schools can censor student speech that “materially disrupts” the educational activities of the school or that is inconsistent with school policies on drug use or “civility.” But what authority, if any, do they have when a student makes a Facebook page or a YouTube video off campus that trashes another student — or a teacher or administrator? Courts around the country have faced this question, with mixed results. Two panels of the Third Circuit issued opinions on this issue on the same day — giving wildly varying answers. Experts discussed the law and social context of this issue at this event in October 2011, attended by more than 50 members of the law school community.

Professor Kim Sheehan discussed kids’ use of social media. She teaches advertising in the UO School of Journalism and Communication and directs the Strategic Communication program at the UO-Portland. Dr. Sheehan holds the Ph. D. from the University of Tennessee, the MBA from Boston University, and the BS in Speech from Northwestern. Her research involves culture and new technology, and she has published extensively about online privacy, advertising ethics, and Direct-to-Consumer prescription drug advertising. She is the author of two books about social media. She is President-Elect of the American Academy of Advertising. She won the School of Journalism and Communication’s Marshall Award for Innovative Teaching in 2001 and 2010.


Dr. Brianna Stiller is Coordinator of Positive Behavior Support Programs for the Eugene School District. She has a Ph.D. in school psychology and has been a school psychologist for 25 years. She is co- author of two intervention programs, now available nationally, designed to deliver positive behavior support in schools. She is also a member of the District’s Equity Committee, which advises the Superintendent and the School Board on how to address issues pertaining to achievement gap; disproportionate discipline; bullying and harassment; and other issues around educational equity. She has been the key person in helping create the 4J School Climate survey, which focuses on issues of harassment and bullying. Dr. Stiller discussed school responses to bullying, including cyberbullying.

Background Materials


Introduction: The legal background

Comments of Prof. Sheehan

Comments of Dr. Stiller

Q & A

Oregon Law » Family Law » Oregon Child Advocacy Project » CYBERBULLYING or CENSORSHIP?
Careers Privacy Policy About Find People © University of Oregon. All rights Reserved.