NY Court Upholds "D-Bag" Ruling

Words in an online journal lead to lengthy court case.

By Leanne Gendreau
|  Monday, Apr 25, 2011  |  Updated 12:32 PM EDT
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Avery Doninger of Burlington, Conn., lost her free speech case.

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Two choice words in her online journal put Avery Doninger at the center of a nationwide debate about free speech online.

The question was whether the then-Burlington high school student had the right to call school administrators "douche bags" while she was off school property.

As it turns out, she doesn't.

A federal appeals court in New York has agreed that Connecticut Lewis B. Mills High School officials acted reasonably and constitutionally when they disciplined Doninger for an Internet posting she wrote off school grounds.

The post Doninger made in 2007 was in response to administrators for canceling a popular school activity and the legal case has worked its way through the court system.

The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan sided with Burlington school officials, who punished Doninger by preventing her from serving as class secretary as a senior.

Doninger sued the administrators, alleging violation of free speech and equal protection rights. A lower judge also said school officials were entitled to immunity.

Doninger has gone onto Eastern Connecticut State University, where she is been honored for her community service work. HGTV chose her as a Community Crusader in 2010.

She designed her own major in international development and social justice with a minor in peace and human rights.

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