Student fights school for his right to tweet

Nick Barbieri

North Attleborough High School senior Nick Barbieri spends a lot of time online.

Most of the time, the 18-year-old is busy posting video game reviews to his YouTube page and tweeting.

"I don't sensor myself on my Twitter and I think that's what's gotten me where I am," he said.

On Feb. 5, he saw a tweet from his school's Twitter account written by Assistant Principal LeAnn Todd that said, "@NorthHigh! No school tomorrow see you in June!"

Barbieri retweeted it adding, "F*** off #seniors #nomakeup #chirpchirp."

"It was kind of just a reference to a running joke at our school," he said.

However, Todd wasn't laughing.

She asked Barbieri to delete that tweet and several other related tweets. He complained.

"When I first walked in, the first thing out of my mouth was, 'I'm sorry if you took offense to my choice of words,'" Barbieri said.

At first, he planned to just take three detentions as punishment. But then something happened online.

"My fans started tweeting at the ACLU that they got involved and I realized that this might be something important that we need to bring up," Barbieri said.

If Barbieri was actually on school grounds, he would have been trouble.

But his tweet was written at home on his personal account. It wasn't posted to the school's Twitter account or the school's Facebook page.

The ACLU sent a letter to the school saying, "Nick's speech was expression protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as by the Massachusetts Student Freedom of Expression act ... I am asking that you rescind the discipline, remove it from Nick's record." (you don't need ellipses at the beginning and the end.)

The school agreed.

Barbieri said he hopes his story sparks a debate at other schools.

"Social media is a new thing, is a new tool and for faculty and students can use to talk to each other. But it's important that we set the boundaries of what can and can't happen on social media," he said.

Calls placed to the high school for comment were not returned. The school was closed because of the snow Thursday.