INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Three Indiana girls who discussed which
classmates they would like to kill in Facebook posts adorned with smiley
faces and LOLs have reached a settlement with the school district that
expelled them for violating an anti-bullying policy.
Liberties Union of Indiana attorney Gavin Rose, who sued Griffith Public
Schools on the girls' behalf, said Tuesday he could not discuss the
details of the settlement because it was confidential.
to say whether there was a cash settlement, but he did say the girls, who
were expelled during eight grade, returned to Griffith Public Schools for
their freshman year of high school last fall.
the Carmel attorney who represented the school district, did not
immediately return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.
The ACLU sued
the school district about 25 miles southeast of Chicago in April 2012,
three months after the girls were expelled for making comments on Facebook
— that they since have framed as jokes — about which of their classmates
they would like to kill. The lawsuit alleged the district had violated the
students' free-speech rights.
officials said the girls violated school policy against bullying,
harassment and intimidation and disrupted school activities. The school
district filed court documents containing excerpts from among nearly 70
Facebook comments that were posted by the girls during a two-hour period
in January 2012. Those comments included names of at least five people
they said they wanted to kill and discussions of using guns, knives, box
cutters and gasoline and filling a bath tub with acid to dissolve a body.
But the girls'
lawsuit said any reasonable person would have realized the 14-year-olds
were only joking because they used emoticons such as smiley faces, terms
that represent laughter including LOL, and capital letters that represent
The posts were
made after school on the girls' personal electronic devices, not on school
computers, and were visible only to those to whom the girls had allowed
the mother of one of the classmates who was the target of the girls'
remarks, said she was "infuriated" at the settlement.
"What kind of
message is that sending to my daughter or anyone else who was on the list
that it's OK to bully . . . and you're going to have a paycheck waiting at
the end of the day," Webb said.
the U.S. Supreme Court has generally ruled that students have free-speech
rights, and schools can prohibit their speech only if it is vulgar or
disruptive to schoolwork or other people. The lawsuit says the posts did
not cause any disruption at school.
settlement was reached, Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich dismissed the
case Monday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, Ind. His order prohibits
the lawsuit from being filed again.