Public schools

School Tried to Expel a Student For Tweeting Two Words About Kissing a Teacher: 'Actually, Yeah.'

High school kids have free speech rights, too.

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Kiss
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A Minnesota student who had to transfer high schools to avoid an expulsion for an incredibly short, wholly inoffensive Tweet can sue the district for violating his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, a federal judge ruled.

The student, Reid Sagehorn, first landed himself in trouble with Elk River School District administrators in January of 2014, according to Education Week. He was asked on an internet message board whether he had made out with a certain 28-year-old teacher at Rogers High School; he tweeted his two-word answer: "actually, yeah." Sagehorn later claimed that he was joking.

Superintendent Mike Bezek didn't think the Tweet was funny. Sagehorn was initially suspended for five days. His punishment was then increased to 10 days, but dragged on for weeks. He eventually transferred schools to avoid expulsion.

Sagehorn was an honors student and captain of the Rogers football team before he transferred.

As if the ruin of Sagehorn's academic life wasn't enough, Police Chief Jeffrey Beahan told media outlets that the teenager could face felony charges. District officials argued that the tweet was obscene.

That's utter nonsense, of course. Sagehorn's mildly suggestive statement about kissing a teacher doesn't even come close to crossing the line into obscenity territory.

Sagehorn is now suing the school district and police chief. Last week, a federal judge declined to dismiss the suit, ruling that it should proceed. That's good news for Sagehorn—who will likely be compensated for damages in an eventual settlement—and very bad news for the bullying authority figures who made his life miserable for no good reason. Teens don't lose the right to say stupid things merely because everything is offensive to edu-crats.

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  1. BUT WE MURST PAY TEACHERZ MOAR!! FOUR THE GOODZ OF THE CHILDRENZZZN!!!!

    1. this kind of thing wouldnt happen if we paid teachers fairly. (fairly being in their eyes, of course, as no one else is in a position to judge their situation)

      1. the right, non sarcastic response would be “in your ideal world what would a teacher make?” “a million dollars a month (or whatever)” “okay so how do you motivate the least successful ones to do a better job?”. that seems to me to pretty much shut that argument down, but people who make that argument probably arent thinking things through all the way to their logical conclusions, and in all seriousness i wouldnt presume to be able to change that. this is actually the kind of argument it’s really not worth getting into, unless arguing is, in itself, your goal

      2. If we paid the brain-dead, arrogant bums who make the public school system such a chess pool what they deserve, they would starve.

      3. The problem lies in getting more pay to the teachers. Increasing funds to the school system is like when we send foreign aid to a third world country to feed the starving populace. All that does is make the dictator richer. We already spend more on education (K-12) than any other country. We have very well paid administrators and some rather plump unions.

    2. Fuck that. Anyone with a sole degree in pedagogy should be placed on the Level 3 sex offenders list so that they’re barred from contact with children.

  2. True bullying doesn’t come from the school jackass, it comes from those in positions of power. This is far worse than getting shoved by the dumb senior

  3. I generally despise lawyer generated trolling. I hate to admit it but in the current enviornment lawyers may be the only defense against the statist fucks that are the bureaucracy.

    Not great overall, but at least a few lawyers are for liberty. My hat is off to them.

    1. Everybody hates lawyers. Until they need one.

      1. The thing is, most need for them is either directly or adjacently caused by them.

      2. Libertarians : Lawyers :: Liberals : Guns

    2. Lawyers have a purpose and are useful. It’s just that our placing all our trust in them has resulted in a system in which the law is created largely by lawyers, the government is administered largely by lawyers, and you pretty much need to have been involved in law to ascend to the highest levels of administration – so naturally our legal code now requires lawyers at nearly every step.

      That’s what happens when you pick what you think is your best basket and slowly start transferring all your eggs into it.

  4. Alas, the judge removed the badged individual from the suit. He is of course free to continue to make up laws and threaten to apply them to children.

    The next time my school district cries about being underfunded, I guess I’ll have to ask them if the monitor social media. If so, I’ll have to argue that they’re apparently overfunded if they have personnel assigned to a task that has nothing to do with education.

  5. very bad news for the bullying authority figures

    Nope, they will continue in their jobs, and any damages are coming from the taxpayers, not the “authority figures.” How is that “bad news” for them?

    1. True. The damages and attorneys fees that a prevailing party in a civil rights claim receives will be funded by the taxpayers, not the wrongdoers. In fact, when the case settles, as 97% of civil suits ultimately do, the school district (that is, the taxpayers) will agree to a sum of cash in exchange for a non-admission of wrongdoing, and in many cases the claims against the individuals themselves are specifically dismissed from the case. And in states like New Jersey, if any judgment is entered against the individual wrongdoers, a variety of labor contracts and statutory mandates require the school district or municipality to idemnify them.

      As a result, being sued is not a real disincentive to wrongdoing because the wrongdoers do not pay the price for their wrongdoing.

      1. Exactly. They don’t give a shit because none of the money is coming out of their pockets.

    2. I dunno. When my kid was in high school, there was an incident that made the national news briefly when a kid invited a girl to prom by writing the invitation across the naked butt cheeks of his lacrosse team buddies. Initially the kids involved were threatened with being charged with indecent exposure and a place on the sex offenders list. But when the story went national (and the kid behind the stunt actually was invited to be on one of the late night shows), the administrators started getting hate mail from everywhere and, at that point, they stood down really fast and only wanted to make it go away. They settled for a short team suspension and a few hours of community service as the only punishment. Even if it costs them no money out of their pockets, Educrats really don’t like public shaming any more than anyone else.

      1. But how many of these cases make national news? For every case like yours, how many go unknown, especially cases having less attention-grabbing facts than lacrosse-player butt cheeks? It is the banal abuses of authority that are more common and, therefore, the most harmful.

  6. Van Halen better watch out. Can’t imagine what charges could be levied if the police hear Hot For Teacher.

  7. This kid is only in high school. He’s in for a rough ride with the “yes means yes” bullshit at the college level.

  8. That’s utter nonsense, of course. Sagehorn’s mildly suggestive statement about kissing a teacher doesn’t even come close to crossing the line into obscenity territory.

    With obscenity, isn’t the crime actually in the distribution anyway? Even if “actually, yeah” could, in some insane alternate reality, be construed as “obscene”, wouldn’t Twitter actually be the criminal in that situation?

    1. Obviously, we need to dig up deceased Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart, of “I don’t know what obscenity is, but I know it when I see it,” fame and have him rule on the obsceneness of “actually, yeah.”

  9. Some more detail over here: https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=minnesota

    The amazing (well, not really) thing to me is that the school immediately went into “attack the student” mode. Whatever happened to always believing the victim? I mean, this is a kid who could have been taken advantage of by a teacher, and the first meeting the family has with the school is with a cop present and the school threatening the student with suspension/expulsion!

    What were the circumstances that led to someone asking this kid if he “actually” made out with the teacher? Was it just out-of-the-blue joking, or was there some reason that people suspected that this happened? If so, doesn’t the school have some responsibility to take an even-handed look at the situation? And if we really slam anyone who accuses a teacher of anything, what happens when a student is actually in a situation where a teacher has taken advantage of them?

    Of course, this is a male student, and a female teacher, and it’s a high school, not a college.

    1. That was my thought too. I am surprised that the district didn’t immediately suspend the teacher on suspicion of child abuse/sexual assault of a minor.

      On the other hand, this could explain the district’s absurd overreaction to the tweet. I would not be surprised if the teacher and/or her union demanded vengeance for the student’s “false accusation” that “endangered her career.” If so, it would simply demonstrate just how absurd we have become in “protecting children,” and how measures designed to protect actually end up harming their supposed beneficiaries.

      1. I agree. Yet the law has been designed to protect a sub-group of children (the one’s who are not autonomous, are unable to consent). I’m not sure that the particular framers wanted to protect such remarks made by children. They may indeed consider a teen’s kissing an adult obscene and, by extension, joking about it as well.

    2. Might also be true that there is a teacher/admin-student sex ring at that school and the loose lips/fingers of one student threatened to upset the apple-cart for all the other funmates … which explains why they all circled the wagons and went into mortal-combat mode so quickly.

  10. What next? Banning Van Halen’s song “Hot for Teacher” because it show a hot teacher. 😉

  11. What he wrote was not obscenity, it was, arguably, libel against the teacher (if not true) that could cause her (presumably) to lose her job or be charged with a crime.

    1. Agreed. Which would give her cause to sue the boy and his family, rather than cause for the school to intimidate the student, particularly if they have not, as appears to be the case, first investigated to determine if the allegation is true or not.

      1. Yes, I can understand the school admins wanting to quash a sex scandal rumor in the bud, but what they actually did seems bizarre and over the top. I object to Soave’s characterization that the student’s boasting was not potentially harmful to anyone.

        1. Perhaps he meant it as a natural matter. Upon considering the law as it is, things indeed become troublesome. (Sending these female teachers to jail is ridiculous, mildly put.)

    2. Yes, and if meant literally, it would be a damaging accusation. So I’m not sure the basis for letting the 1st Amendment suit proceed, but I’m not interested enough to look it up. Short attention span and everything.

  12. High school kids have free speech rights, too.

    NO they don’t. I recall that “Bong hits for Jesus” kid losing. And Pedophile in chief Thomas is more than willing to ignore the 4th Amendment and search in little girls panties for some advil.

  13. You just don’t joke about “sexual assault”.

    1. If a kiss occurred, either he kissed her, or she kissed him. If she agreed to it, variant 1 would be him assaulting her. If she kissed him, his agreement could be irrelevant (“statutory assault”?, consent presumed invalid). With the law as it often is, things aren’t harmless.

      1. Sepaking of which, his joke itself could be considered sexual harassment.

      2. Correction “If she [hasn’t] agreed to it, variant 1…”

  14. High school kids have free speech rights, too….
    Except when they don’t.

  15. Are those people crazy?

  16. Man…I hate being put in a position of having to defend teachers. But, does anyone here realize the kind of trouble he could have gotten this teacher in because of his LIE?

    Seriously, if it had been a female student tweeting she had made out with a 28 year old male teacher he probably would have been jailed. His life would have been ruined.

    This is not a childish prank. This could have ruined someone’s life. I hate to side with teachers and their unions and the administration, but I think I have to on this one.

    1. I was thinking much the same – this kid could have gotten the teacher arrested on child sexual assault charges – no joking matter.

      Reid should be facing libel suit.

      His parents need to whip his fucking ass.

  17. Now this is what I call overreacting. I meant there are so many actual delinquents and even more students who need support and guidance at school. But no, they have to keep a close eye on student twitters and facebook accounts to make sure all kids don’t post something inappropriate. Privacy, hello, are you there? I would rather pay attention to students who seek for quality paper writing help because they cannot keep up with classes. However, it seems that these educators couldn’t care less about education itself.

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