School Districts, Social Media, The First Amendment, and You

The teachers in the district where my husband works and my daughter goes to school participated in a one-day strike this week. I was thrilled to see that an overwhelming majority of parents on social media supported the teachers’ strike even though all they knew was that our teachers deserve more money. They didn’t even seem to be aware of the main reason for the strike, which was improper bargaining tactics by the district.

The day after the strike, the district posted on its Facebook page that teachers were back to work. I commented “I hope you saw how much parental support they got. I hope you feel just super about your own inflated salaries. I hope your statement that teachers’ claims about unfair labor tactics were “unsubstantiated” comes back to bite you.” I thought it would be the first of many snarky comments.

I also thought it might get deleted, so I copied it and pasted it into my own status and said that I was doing so before it was deleted from their page. A few minutes later, a friend commented to tell me that it was already gone from the district’s page. When I went to the page, not only was the comment gone, but there were no comment buttons on their posts anymore, at least not for me. I was blocked. Banned from further comments.

Here’s where it gets crazy.

My friend Mark said, “If so, that would be a violation of the 1st Amendment which is applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.”

I responded that I’d thought Facebook was the Wild West, and that they could delete anything they wanted. I can delete comments I don’t like on my page, after all. But Mark told me that government pages have different rules! A little Google search confirmed that he was right. I emailed the district with a link to one of the articles I’d found, told them that I was researching the legality of their removing my comment, and asked them to consider unbanning me.

About twenty minutes later, I received an email stating simply that I had been unbanned.

My comment had also mysteriously reappeared.

There are still no other snarky comments on their post. Am I the only snarky parent in the district, or are other comments being deleted? Who knows? One snarky comment that I’d seen on a previous post is missing. Did the woman delete it or did the district? Who knows?

I haven’t commented on their page anymore; my husband has to work with these people, after all, and he’s a popular teacher who is not as confrontational as I am. He even likes most of the admin.

For more information on this, and to find out what kinds of comments government pages ARE allowed to block, read the article below.

This blog is not intended as legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on T.V.