The Lodi Unified School District has announced that it is suspending a portion of its social networking guidelines, and district trustees will consider a revision at next week's board meeting.
The district stirred controversy when it required high school athletes and club members to sign a contract vowing not to post inappropriate language or photos online.
The contract, which took effect when the new academic year began July 26, prohibits online posts, Facebook "likes" or retweets of profane or sexual material. It also prohibits demeaning statements about other people.
District trustees approved the policy in March, but it has drawn strong criticism from students who say it violates their free-speech rights.
The district issued a news release today saying that it is suspending the portion that sets forth offenses and consequences.
In a six-page letter dated Monday, Thomas R. Burke, a San Francisco attorney representing the Student Press Law Center, urged the district to immediately suspend the policy.
"While the policy may be a well-intentioned effort to discourage bullying, it sweeps far too broadly and impermissibly has the government acting as a 24-hour-a-day censor of student speech," Burke states in the letter.
Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer said in the news release, "We will revise the statement in order to clearly communicate the original intent, which was to describe how social networking can lead to consequences at school, as allowed by current law. Students should be aware that their First Amendment speech rights do not authorize them to bully other students or staff."
A proposed revision of the guidelines will be on the board's Tuesday agenda.
Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.