As previously reported, in a March 2014 filing titled H.W. v. Sterling High School District, a New Jersey high school student filed suit claiming school officials had violated her constitutional rights when they punished her for content she posted on Twitter which criticized Sterling High School’s principal.
The settlement, which was approved by the Sterling High School District in April and entered by the Court on July 29, 2014, provides that the district will reimburse the student $9,000 for her legal fees. However, the district will not pay additional damages to the student. In addition, the school district agreed to revoke punishments imposed against the student for her Twitter postings, expunge documents related to the incident from the student’s academic record, and abandon its attempted requirements for drug testing of the student. Specifically, the agreement provides that the student is eligible for graduation upon completion of outstanding assignments, is allowed to attend the senior class trip to Florida, and if the student does not seek press coverage or disclose the settlement terms she will be allowed to participate in prom and the graduation ceremony.
Beyond agreements directly between the school district and the student, the settlement also calls of the school to modify its student handbook to specify that administrators “may be monitoring student discussions on Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlets and may seek to impose penalties in accordance with the student code of conduct if such discussions cause a substantial disruption at the school.”