Four California high school students have filed a federal lawsuit against their school district for suspending them over their responses to racially charged posts on a private Instagram account.
The students, who attend Albany High School outside San Francisco, California, either "liked" or commented on several Instagram posts, one of which depicted a black student and coach with nooses around their necks.
The posts were brought to the school district's attention in March, and also included derogatory comments about other students' weight and physical appearance.
The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this week, argues that Albany Unified School District overstepped its boundaries by disciplining the students for activity on a private social media account not connected to the school in any way.
Attorney Alan Beck, who is representing the students in this case, argued this is no different than a student doing something in the privacy of his own home.
"This to me is no different than having a private drawing book and making some offensive drawings at home and sharing them with a couple of my friends," Beck said, according to Fox News. "Does the school have the right to ruin my life over something I was doing at my house?"
"People of this age click 'like' to pretty much everything," said attorney Darryl Yorkey, who also represents the students, "and they'll respond in grunts and single syllables to pretty much everything."
The student who owned the Instagram account was also suspended and faces a possible expulsion, according to his attorney. Also, court documents allege that the district suspended students who simply followed the Instagram account in question.
Albany Superintendent Valerie Williams reiterated that the school district's priority was student safety, and that they were reviewing the lawsuit.
"The district takes great care to ensure that our students feel safe at school, and we are committed to providing an inclusive and respectful learning environment for all our students," Williams said in a statement.