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Student says he was booted from honor society for Facebook page

By The Associated Press

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — A Tampa-area high school student says he was kicked out of the National Honor Society because he started a Facebook page critical of his school.

The decision to kick Alex Fuentes out of the National Honor Society at Wesley Chapel High School led him to transfer to another school last month, the student told The Tampa Tribune for a story published yesterday.

Fuentes, an 18-year-old senior, started the page three months ago. Titled "Wesley Chapel High (equal sign) Fail," it became a popular venue for students to criticize the school. Fuentes said he was frustrated that he was going to graduate from a school that was lowly ranked because of poor standardized tests scores.

"It wasn't anything malicious," he said. "It was just a joke taken the wrong way."

When he returned from winter break last month, a panel of teachers voted unanimously to dismiss him from the National Honor Society on the grounds he had not upheld a pledge to show loyalty to his school, Fuentes said.

The school's principal, Carin Nettles, said she couldn't talk specifically about Fuentes' case. But she said the National Honor Society has to follow procedures set out in its constitution when a member is accused of violating the pledge that inductees take.

"They don't just kick someone out," she said.

Fuentes said he decided to transfer to a neighboring high school after discovering that three of his teachers were on the panel that voted to expel him from the honor society.

The Tampa Tribune also reported yesterday that two Florida experts in First Amendment law said Fuentes' rights may have been violated. The legal experts also told the newspaper that that because they didn’t have the school’s side of the story, it was difficult to say for certain.


Ind. schools warn students to watch what they say online

Administrators say blog postings can be disruptive to education; critics say schools shouldn't be able to punish kids for comments posted off-campus. 10.02.06

2nd Circuit: School can punish teen for online criticism

Students 'may be disciplined for expressive conduct, even conduct occurring off school grounds, when this conduct "would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment."' 05.30.08

Texas Tech player's tweet about tardiness ticks off coach
Mike Leach bars student athletes from using Twitter and says their Facebook pages will be monitored. 09.29.09

How free is student speech?
By David L. Hudson Jr. Despite 40 years of rulings addressing student expression, questions remain. 05.07.09

Case of fake Web page may chip away at student-speech rights
By Gene Policinski Pennsylvania case invokes high court's 'Bong Hits' ruling to allow school punishment of off-campus cyberspeech. 10.05.08

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