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ACLU Defends North Attleboro Student Punished For Profane Tweet

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NORTH ATTLEBORO (CBS) – A high school student is fighting back after a comment he made on Twitter got him in trouble.

Nick Barbieri says what he tweets through his own account; on his own time should be none of his school’s business. He now has the ACLU on his side.

Nick is a senior at North Attleboro High, but his job is right in his basement. He has a YouTube channel for gamers with hundreds of thousands of followers. His Twitter page has 30,000.

“I’m trying to engage my audience and get interactions,” says Barbieri. “Anything I can do to get a reaction from people.”

But it was one retweet that got him in some serious hot water at school. It started with a tweet from the assistant principal during a recent storm which read, “No school tomorrow – see you in June!” Nick retweeted the message and added an expletive.

Nick Barbieri's tweet that got him in trouble.

Tweet that got a North Attleboro student in trouble.

“It was more of just an off the cuff remark, something I made,” Nick says.

But his assistant principal didn’t agree. She called him to take it down. He did. But on Monday he was handed two three-hour detentions.

“I felt like I was being suppressed and wasn’t allowed to voice my side of the story, I was just being told this is what you have,” he says.

That’s when the ACLU got involved, calling it a free speech issue and writing to the school asking for his record to be wiped clean and an apology.

Read: Letter from ACLU to school

“Schools don’t have the right to censor what students say on their social media pages,” Nick says. “If you’re going to be on social media as a school or faculty that’s one thing, but you have to understand that it’s just the same as if you’re interacting with a student outside of the classroom.”

Whether it was the letter or all the attention, Nick met with the principal Wednesday and his record was wiped clean. As for the apology, “She hasn’t given me any apology,” he says, “but whether or not she does I respect her as an administrator.”

WBZ-TV reached out to the school, but they have not commented.

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