ACLU-PA Statement on Mahanoy Area School District’s Decision to Appeal Ruling in B.L.

April 12, 2019
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PHILADELPHIA - The Mahanoy Area School District filed a notice of appeal today in B.L. v. Mahanoy Area School District. The school district seeks reversal of a district court ruling that the school district violated a student’s free speech rights when it removed her from the cheerleading squad as punishment for a Snapchat post containing profanity that she made on the weekend, off campus, and on her own smartphone.

The following can be attributed to Molly Tack-Hooper, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and co-counsel for B.L.:

“The law is crystal clear here. School districts have no power to punish students for swearing outside of school.

“B.L., her parents, and the ACLU made many attempts to resolve this case without unnecessary litigation. The fact that this case has consumed as many attorney hours as it has is entirely the result of the school district’s decisions.”

The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“It is a shame that the school district has decided to waste more taxpayer dollars fighting a battle that’s already been resolved—rightly—in favor of students’ free speech.”

B.L. is represented by Tack-Hooper of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Arleigh P. Helfer III and Theresa E. Loscalzo of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP. More information about this case is available at aclupa.org/cheer.

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