California students suspended for ‘liking’ racist posts sue

FILE - In this May 16, 2012 file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook is adding more Snapchat-like features to its app. The company says it wants to let people's cameras "do the talking" as more people are posting photos and videos instead of blocks of text. With the update coming to users starting Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Facebook is adding a camera icon to the top left corner of its mobile app.. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A California school district suspended a high school student after racist images that included nooses drawn around the necks of a black student and coach appeared on his social media site.

But a federal lawsuit says the district went too far when it also disciplined students who indicated they “liked” the posts on the Instagram account. The suit – filed Monday in San Francisco on behalf of four students- accuses the Albany Unified School District of violating students’ free speech rights.

Superintendent Valerie Williams said in a statement that the district is reviewing the lawsuit.

Legal experts say the lawsuit will present federal courts with another opportunity to decide how strictly schools can regulate student speech. And it raises thorny questions about whether “likes” on social media should be treated similarly to the original posts.

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