Student’s diary lawsuit dismissed

"A former Fulton County student who was expelled from high school for
writing about a dream in which a student shoots a math teacher has failed to
convince a federal court that the school system violated her right to free
The family of Rachel Boim argued in a lawsuit that the school system
violated her constitutional right to expression when she was disciplined after
her art teacher seized a personal journal in class. Rachel’s Boim’s family
argued her right to free speech was violated in the seizure of her
journal. Rachel was then a 14-year-old honors student at Roswell High.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Senior Judge Marvin Shoob dismissed the case, as
well as a companion lawsuit in which her parents sought to recoup their legal
fees. In his order, Shoob said the writings were "sufficiently disturbing" to
support the school system’s disciplinary action…."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Rich Addicks/AJC

One thought on “Student’s diary lawsuit dismissed

  1. I have to state first of all, that I have not researched this story in depth…but this is disturbing to me for several reasons:
    First of all, it is difficult to understand why the teacher thought he was allowed to read her private writing.
    That was wrong. Period.
    but then when the content was discovered…by what ever means…what then?? That’s what makes this such a sticky, uncomfortable, disturbing story, in my opinion.

    For one thing, isn’t the temptation always there…to one degree or another…when a private diary falls into our hands? I know I have succombed on one occasion–to my mortification–and read another’s private writing without permission. Unfortunately, for those “under age” (whatever that is) “grown ups” feel it is their right to invade privacy.

    Then, in my mind, the whole free speech and privacy issue becomes even more complicated when it involves anyone expessing these types of fantasies. Even without the purloined information…once the fantasies are revealed, what is our obligation to the person who is the object of the threat…and the person who expresses the threat–in whatever form? I can’t help but think that if, after siezing the journal, the girl’s bag was searched and indeed there was a gun in her posession, the teacher would be lauded for his or her response…HOWEVER…When I ask myself “what would I do” (particularly in light of the fact that some students end up acting out their fantasies), if I overheard students talking about such a fantasy, or in an act of quieting disruptive students my wandering eyes read a disturbing fantasy I would like to that that I would…and I wish the teacher–no matter what the law in his town/school/state requires–would have first engaged in a compassionate discussion with the student and then, if necessary, the parents…to determine if this girl needed help or was simply expressing her own fears or imagination.

    I think the most difficult part for me is that the teacher and school forgot his/her goal: the welfare of the individual as well as the student body and faculty. I understand the need for “zero tolerance”, however, no one was served by the teacher’s and school’s handling of this. In other words: “two wrongs do not make a right.”

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