On Wednesday, Bethany Koval a student at Fair Lawn High School in New Jersey, said she was sent to the principal's office after a classmate saw her tweets about Gaza bombings, and spread word of Koval's pro-Palestine stance around the school.
In recordings Koval took on her phone during the meeting, the speaker, presumably the principal, tells Koval he is considering filing a "bully report." When Koval says she hasn't done anything "problematic," just "controversial," the man replies, "Well that's your interpretation. There's a state law that might interpret it differently."
The administrator is referring to New Jersey's Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying law, or HIB. Once a principal files a report, they must notify the offending student's parents and launch an investigation with the school's anti-bullying specialist, according to the state education department's website.
Koval and Twitter users who expressed their support wondered how expressing Pro-Palestine sentiments could constitute bullying. Still, she thought she might have reason to worry.
Since the principal wasn't acting on behalf of the police, it doesn't seem Koval has the right to a lawyer. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, students can bring legal counsel to a meeting with the principal, but it's not a right guaranteed by law (at least in the case of a suspension). However, if there is a disciplinary hearing of some kind, students do have a right to counsel.
Legal quandaries aside, the title "bully" is probably more well suited for some others.
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