Carroll said he posted the tweets in the early hours of March 6 on his personal computer at home. Carroll said Superintendent Dennis Stockdale told him that even if the posts were from his personal computer, when Carroll later logged into Twitter with the school-issued laptop, the posts could show up with a school IP address.
School computers, including laptops, function on the school’s network and use Internet filters, Stockdale said. He said it was beyond his expertise to discuss the issue in detail, but the district only disciplines for posts made on the district’s network with district technology.
“The school district has not suspended or expelled students for using their personal electronic devices inappropriately using their own network, including in this situation,” Stockdale read from a statement prepared by the district’s lawyers.
Smith said she was called to a March 12 meeting regarding her son’s attendance at school, but the focus of the meeting ended up being the tweets.
“They told him to go get his computer out of his locker,” Smith said. “The assistant principal said, ‘I kind of blind-sided you and this meeting is about his Twitter posts and he’s expelled.’”
After meeting with the superintendent a week later, Carroll was told he could attend an alternative school but would not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities or attend prom.
In October, Carroll served a one-day in-school suspension for Tweeting profanity while on the school’s laptop. After that day, Carroll said he used the laptop only for homework.
“Austin told me, ‘I swear on my life I didn’t use the school computer,’” Smith said. “I believe him.”