Facebook is often at the center of controversy, especially when it comes to pre-teens and their involvement of the social media tool in school. As reported recently, teachers and students alike find themselves in hot water as a result of Facebook use at school. Some learning facilities have even banned the use of social media in the past, according to this video from 2010:
As previously reported by Mike Fossum and according to the Minnesota Star Tribune, a 12 year-old girl is now involved in a lawsuit against a Minnesota school district, claiming they violated her Constitutional rights when they demanded her Facebook passwords and punished her over a post she made on her page concerning her feelings toward a particular hall monitor, who was “mean to her”.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday, has the full support of the A.C.L.U. under the claim that the Minnewaska School District violated the sixth-grader’s First and Fourth Amendment rights–the right to freedom of speech and against illegal search and seizure, respectively. The child, identified only as “R.S.” in court documents, was initially given detention for the post, but after a second post turned up demanding to know who had turned her in, she was given in-school suspension. After a third incident regarding R.S. and a Facebook conversation about sex with another student–which garnered a complaint from the student’s parents–she was called before school officials and a deputy, who reportedly pressured her to give up her internet passwords in order to gain access to her Facebook page. Interestingly enough, the lawsuit claims that none of the posts were made from school property or on school equipment.
According to CNN, R.S. was intimidated, frightened, humiliated and sobbing while she was detained in the small school room and says her schoolwork consequently suffered because of her embarrassment over the incident.
“Students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the school house gate,” executive director for the ACLU in Minnesota Charles Samuelson said in a statement. “The Supreme Court ruled on that in the 1970s, yet schools like Minnewaska seem to have no regard for the standard.”
The school district maintains that they were within their rights to search the girl’s Facebook account.
“The district is confident that once all facts come to light, the district’s conduct will be found to be reasonable and appropriate,” a representative for the district said.