School disciplinary codes often trample upon speech that is constitutionally protected, even under the special jurisprudence that governs student speech in school. These infringements of First Amendment rights go beyond silencing and censoring speech—they lead to long-term suspensions, expulsion, referrals to alternative schools, and even to the juvenile justice system. And yet the link between the exercise of First Amendment rights and wrongful school exclusion has received virtually no attention.
That omission obscures an important link between the infringement of student speech rights and the juvenile justice system: violations of school rules that restrict constitutionally protected expression are a leading cause of the initial discipline that sets children on the path from school to a delinquency label and confinement. This Article examines the nexus that connects constitutionally protected expression, violations of school speech codes, and school exclusion.