North Carolina students who go after their teachers online could face jail time — and truth won’t even be a defense, under a new law that critics say infringes on free speech rights.
The law, called the School Violence Prevention Act, is aimed at students who torment their teachers by creating fake online profiles, posting personal information or images, signing them up to pornographic sites or make any statement, “whether true or false” that’s intended to “immediately provoke” anyone to “stalk or harass a school employee.”
“It became apparent that we had to get some kind of protection,” said Judy Kidd, of the Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina, which sought the legislation.
But critics of the law, which took effect Dec. 1 and makes such actions a Class 2 misdemeanor equal to simple assault or resisting arrest, say it is vague, overly harsh and unconstitutional. The ACLU of North Carolina said “criminalizing student speech is a slippery slope and establishes a bad precedent.”