HAMMOND | Three Griffith Middle School girls' Facebook comments about killing several classmates and teachers were not jokes, the school district said in federal court documents filed Tuesday.
The girls' families and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued Griffith Public Schools in April, claiming the district violated the girls' First Amendment rights to free speech by expelling them for their online comments.
The ACLU and families claim the girls' comments were "complete jest" that no reasonable person would interpret otherwise, according to the lawsuit. The Times is not naming the girls involved because they are minors.
Griffith Public Schools said the girls' conversation posed a "true threat," and two of the threatened students were so scared they missed classes and school, according to court records filed Tuesday.
Griffith Public Schools said the conversation was particularly disturbing in light of last year's shooting in Martinsville, Ind., where a student posted on Facebook and then attempted to kill a fellow student, shooting him twice at school, court records state.
The girls had a nearly two-hour virtual conversation that included more than 70 posts. During it, the girls named multiple students and teachers whom they thought should die.
Among the girls' posts:
Girl 1: homociidal.? Does that mean you wanna kiill people.? Cos iif so, ii do.
Girl 2: iim gonna start a hiit liist.
Girl 3: I wanna kill people with a knife. But its easier to find out who did it .. so I gotta get a gun/:
Girl 2: iim gonna use my piink boxcutter. But put paper towel around thee handle, so they cant take my fiinger priints.
Girl 1: Its easier to find out who did it with a gun. And yes, homocidal means you wanna kill people.
The girls later talked about using a butcher knife, filling a tub with acid to dissolve a body or lighting someone on fire, court records state.
The Griffith girls were suspended and then expelled after a parent of one of the threatened students brought a copy of the conversation to school officials. The district said the girls violated a provision of the student handbook that relates to bullying, harassment and intimidation.
The girls were offered the opportunity to return to the district in the fall, court records state.