ACLU Sues School Over Facebook

    March 8, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Minnewaska, MN Area Schools and various Pope County officials Tuesday, citing that they violated a middle school student’s constitutional rights regarding two Facebook wall posts.


The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by the ACLU of Minnesota, and claimed the Minneapolis area school in question disciplined a 12-year-old after she’d posted on Facebook that she ‘hated’ a hall monitor that had been ‘mean’ to her. School principal Pat Falk deemed the comments to be bullying, and gave the girl detention and forced her to apologize. The student used a home computer to post the comment, and the girl was disciplined again, after posting another comment – She added some obscenities over being ratted out over a second incident – a fellow student’s mother told the school that her son and the girl were talking about sex online, prompting administrators to force the girl to hand over her Facebook and email passwords.

The ACLU sees the discipline as a violation of free speech rights, and points out that the Sheriff’s Deputy present had no warrant when the school demanded the passwords, which potentially constituted unreasonable search and seizure.

Wally Hilke, attorney for the ACLU has stated that, “she was intimidated, frightened, humiliated and sobbing while school administrators were scouring her private communications. These adults traumatized this minor without any regard for her rights.”

The lawsuit, filed by the girl’s mother, seeks unspecified damages, along with an order that would keep school officials from meddling with speech made outside of school hours and property. The suit claims that the girl fell behind in school, after becoming too distraught to attend. School Superintendent Greg Ohl claims that the district was “taken aback by it.”

What is up with Minneapolis and Facebook?