A lot of the news coming out of the Mahanoy Area School District could easily be classified as bizarre. But nothing could be more bizarre than its response to losing its case before the US Supreme Court last week.
Based on its initial response, you’d think the school actually won.
FACT CHECK: It didn’t.
The Supreme Court actually judged that Mahanoy Area didn’t have the right to regulate what former cheerleader Brandi Levy posted to Snapchat after she was regulated to the JV cheer team for her sophomore year.
Mahanoy Area saw Levy’s now infamous message and suspended her from the team for a year, a punishment that Justice Brett Kavanaugh said was too harsh during oral arguments before the Court back in April.
Regardless of the punishment, the Court ultimately ruled that the school couldn’t regulate what Levy posted that fateful day: “F*** school F*** softball F*** cheer F*** everything”
Mahanoy Area Issues Bizarre Statements Following Supreme Court Loss
However, the school decided to find a silver lining that didn’t really exist in this case. It found the one part of Justice Stephen Breyer’s argument that indicated schools still do have the right to regulate off-campus student speech but only sometimes. And the court really didn’t want to specify on what occasions a school could do that, save for saying that the speech is harassing or targeting.
In trying to regulate Levy’s message, it tried making the same argument. And it lost.
But they had this football and apparently it needed to be spiked, so they spiked it, regardless of the outcome.
This is what the school posted on its Facebook page following the release of the Supreme Court’s opinion on Mahanoy Area School District v. BL:
The Mahanoy Area School District is pleased with and vindicated by today’s Supreme Court decision. The School District unanimously won the issue upon which it sought Supreme Court review: all 9 Justices rejected the Third Circuit’s conclusion that school districts lack authority to regulate off-campus speech. The Supreme Court held that it does “not agree with the reasoning of the Third Circuit.” The Supreme Court instead enumerated many examples of situations when school districts can regulate off-campus speech and made it clear that its list was not exclusive. So, although the Court upheld the $1 judgment in favor of Ms. Levy, we are very pleased that the Court agreed with our arguments about schools’ authority to address off-campus speech under a wide variety of situations. This decision is an important vindication of schools’ authority to protect students and staff and to fulfill schools’ educational missions.
OK, so while it’s technically accurate that the Supreme Court did opine that public schools do, technically, have the ability to regulate some student speech conducted off-campus, the same speech could be regulated by actual civil authorities (aka, the police) because it would be classified as harassment.
But to say they’re “pleased and vindicated” by the Supreme Court’s decision? That’s just crazy. Mahanoy Area was arguing for the right to regulate Levy’s message, nothing more. To call losing that argument a win … weird.
However, that’s not the bizarre part of this story, as bizarre and delusional as that statement truly is.
The school then issued a follow-up statement to its first delusional statement and posted it to its Facebook page. This statement allegedly came from Solicitor John Dean.
Dean indicates that the previous statement – the one claiming a win when there was no win – didn’t come from the school. That’s in spite of the fact that it was definitely posted to the school’s Facebook page, labeled as a press release, and still exists on its Facebook page.
Dean says he wasn’t able to review that statement before it was posted but still maintains the school didn’t write it.
Photo: Coal Region Canary