A student was removed from her position as head varsity cheerleader and dismissed from the team when the cheer coaches discovered a series of posts on her personal Twitter account that contained profanity and sexual innuendo. Her mother filed a grievance, arguing that the district violated the student’s right to free speech. She argued that the student’s speech was not threatening or directed toward the school community and therefore was not within the disciplinary reach of school officials. The school district denied the grievance and the mother filed a lawsuit. The district requested that the lawsuit be dismissed and the court granted that request. The mother appealed that decision to the court of appeals.

The court of appeals noted that when the student joined the cheerleading team, the student and her mother both signed the cheerleading constitution, which required cheerleaders to maintain “appropriate” conduct on their personal social media accounts. The student’s Twitter profile also identified her as a member of the varsity cheer team. Finally, it noted that although the student was dismissed from an extracurricular activity as a consequence of her speech, she was not suspended from school altogether. Although students do have a constitutional right to freedom of speech, those rights must be tempered in the light of a school official’s duty to teach students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior. Therefore, when evaluating whether a student is engaging in protected free speech, it must keep in mind the special characteristics of the school environment, particularly in the context of extracurricular activities.

Although the court refrained from specifically ruling as to whether or not the student’s tweets were protected free speech, it upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit.