Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Puckett, Tiffany

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)


In the landmark 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines case, the Supreme Court ruled school districts could censor student speech if it caused a material and substantial disruption to the educational process or if the speech infringed upon the rights of others. Since then, the Supreme Court has also allowed schools to abridge students’ speech rights if the speech was obscene, if the speech was part of a school-sponsored activity, or if the speech promoted illegal drug use. Most of the court cases since Tinker have applied the first prong of the Tinker decision, focusing on disruption to education as the test to justify censorship. The constitutionality of foreseeability of disruption has even been debated by the courts. The second prong of the Tinker Test has received far less attention. The Supreme Court has yet to define what it means to “infringe upon the rights of others” leaving lower courts to decide and resulting in conflicting decisions. Ultimately, school administrators must practically decide freedom of speech issues, often with little time to prepare and make a decision.


99 pages




Northern Illinois University

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