Date of Award

Fall 11-12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Joseph Stetar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Stevenson, Ed.D.


School Law, Policy, Student Expression, Cyberbullying, School Solicitors, Student Rights


The purpose of this study was to gather and analyze the perspectives of Pennsylvania school solicitors in Montgomery and Bucks Counties about how school officials should assess their regulatory authority of off-campus student online expression. With the rise in students online communication, the increasing and changing role of the school administrator, and the lack of a Supreme Court ruling on the matter, guidance and clarity for how school officials should proceed is blurry. Case law used as precedent to guide decision making has been inconsistent, with variations based on geographic region and the trends in that particular Circuit Court of Appeals.

I explore relevant case law, discuss social factors influencing the authority of school officials, analyze relevant scholarly research, and most importantly assess the perspectives of solicitors. Through qualitative interviews, school solicitors offered perspectives on their interpretations of legal trends, which precedents to apply, and what guiding questions to ask when determining the legal and professional responsibility of school officials to regulate off-campus expression.

I found that while there are many complicating factors that raise the level of responsibility for school officials’ involvement, the primary factors determining regulatory authority are the establishment of a nexus at the school and whether the expression results in substantial disruption to the on-campus educational environment.