Four teenagers in the Knightstown, Indiana school system have been tossed out of school permanently for making a horror-comedy entitled "The Teddy Bear Master," in which a villainous puppetmaster uses stuffed animals to try to kill a teacher. According to the Associated Press, which is running a story on the incident, the school superintendent is defending the expulsion partly on the grounds that the fictional teacher targeted in the film has the "same last name as a real teacher in the district." At first blush, that sounds like a very thin justification for the action, perhaps ginned up to protect the expelling principal against valid charges of overreach. The story also notes that the sophomores worked on the film from fall 2005 through this past summer, which if true, makes it seem much less likely that there were bad intentions. Two of the students, 15-year old Isaac Imel and 16-year old Cody Overbay, have sued in U.S. District court to have their expulsion overturned.
If the AP story is a fair representation of the facts in the case, it would seem that the school district doesn't have a leg to stand on. The story notes that a local prosecutor's office screened the film and declined to press any kind of charges, and the attorney for the school district has been reduced to filing court papers citing "vulgar and offensive language" in the film in addition to the (apparently) vague charge of teacher intimidation. The ACLU is representing one of the students.