Should students be disciplined for controversial social media posts?

The average teenager spends around nine hours each day in front of a screen consuming media and posting content for the whole world to see. Often times, students just expect their friends and followers to see their posts and messages. They need to ask themselves, however, “Is anything ever truly private online?”

An increase in technological capabilities makes it possible for anyone to share or report a post in one keystroke. Before you hit “send,” make sure it is not something you will regret. Sam Jernigan (11) learned this the hard way.  

Be smart about what you post,” Jernigan said. “It can come back on you heavy.”

Jernigan was expelled in February for one of his Snapchat posts that was interpreted to be a threat.

“I don’t think schools should be able to punish students for their social media posts, unless it was similar to my predicament where I posted it in school itself,” Jernigan said. “Reason being because if it doesn’t pertain to school, they shouldn’t be able to act on such posts. That’s the job of a parent.”

According to Shelby County Schools, a punishable offense is evidence via social media that a student threatens to cause damage to school property or harm other students or staff.

Dr. JB Blocker, Shelby County Schools Attendance and Discipline Official, believes that students should be able to express themselves on social media within limits of safety.

“Students should be allowed to be expressive on social media but I believe that their expression should be consistent with our ‘positive societal norms’ (meaning expression that does not break the law and does not jeopardize safety as the result of disreputable conduct),” Blocker said.  “I believe that discipline should be an option if there is a specific threat to harm or kill a student or employee.”

One inappropriate post could lead to a disciplinary referral, suspension or expulsion. Many students understand the risks involved with social media.

“We have the right to post whatever we want,” Taylor Jones (12) said. “However, students should know that what they type or say could have consequences.”


Social media culture is very prominent at White Station, and students can often post without thinking of potential repercussions.