A group of four students from Albany High School got suspended after they followed a racist Instagram account handled by another student from the same school. The students then sought legal help and sued the school and Albany Unified School District over the suspension and they contended that their First Amendment rights got violated because their actions fell under the free speech rights of the country.
The students, all juniors, asked a federal judge to delete their records of the suspension. They also asked the judge to allow them to have make-up activities for the missed classes. They also hoped to seek reimbursement but the details about what they want as a payment remained unclear.
They posted racist statements and comments on the private Instagram account ran by another student. The students contended because they posted their comments and statements outside of school, they should have not been suspended. The attorneys of the plaintiffs also claimed school officials paraded the group before they got suspended and their schoolmates yelled at them and some got beaten up, NBC News shared.
For the violation of their First Amendment rights, the students' attorneys said the way the school officials handled the situation and how they tried to discipline their clients caused the damage. The defense team pointed out the Instagram account was private so there was no ground for any form of discipline. The posts, which showed African-American students at the school, only became public after the school district ordered it to be visible to others.
Meanwhile, other reports said a total of 13 students got reprimanded for following the Instagram account and for liking and commenting on the racist posts. Some faced the possibility of expulsion from the school. It remained unknown what the other students' moves are regarding the disciplinary actions imposed on them.
In response to the lawsuit, Albany Unified School District said they take great care to ensure their students feel safe at school and they are committed to providing inclusive and respectful learning environment. They added they will defend their core values no matter what.
Albany High School's black student population is less than five percent of its whole student body, SF Gate shared. Some students believe how the school officials handled the matter is correct.