Attorneys General Coalition Shows Support to Protect Students From Bullying

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors joins a coalition of attorney general in filing a friend-of-the-court brief to urge the Supreme Court to protect school’s ability to address off-campus bullying including cyberbullying that affects student’s education.

The coalition filed the brief for the case Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L which concerns the ability of schools to hold students accountable for off-campus speech and does not support either party.

The lower court ruled the case that schools may never regulate student’s off-campus speech.

In the coalition’s brief, the attorneys urge the Supreme Court to reject this rule arguing that this ruling will undermine state anti-bullying laws.

Moreover, the coalition believes the ruling will prevent schools from addressing in-person and online bullying that started off-campus.

“Public schools clearly have the legal ability to regulate off-campus bullying that impacts a student’s education,” said Attorney General Connors.

“Our state DOE should have access to every available tool to combat bullying in the school system, including addressing off-campus intimidation and aggression.”

A harmful and disruptive form of behavior, bullying often involves verbal and/or physical attacks to the victims. And whether the bullying was done in-person or online, it will still have a huge impact on the student’s ability to perform well in school.

The coalition explained that schools have “a duty to provide high-quality education to all students.”

With bullying making school an unsafe place for victims, it has shown that bullying can lower the academic performance of victims and bullies in the short- and long-term, according to the coalition’s brief.

The attorneys general explained that they do not take sides on the underlying facts of the Mahanoy Area School District case.

Instead, they want the Supreme Court to respond to students’ off-campus speech like any other students’ speech, allowing schools to regulate it when it has substantial effects on the school or other students’ learning.

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