Guest Author - Sue Walsh
A Minnesota teen was awarded $70,000 in her lawsuit against her school district. Riley Stratton, now 15, filed the suit with the help of the ACLU in 2012 when she was a student at Minnewaska Area Middle School sixth-grader. After she complained about a teacher’s aide on Facebook-at home on her personal computer, a parent contacted the school about it. The school’s response was to pull the girl into the office where a Sheriff’s Deputy was waiting, and force her to hand over her Facebook and email passwords. The administrators then went through her account, reading posts, chats and private messages. The school district claims they thought they had permission from Stratton’s parents, but they did not. In fact her mother said they never bothered to notify her at all, and could not provide the required signed consent.
"They never once told me they were going to bring her into the room and demand her Facebook password," Sandra, the girl’s mother told Fox News. "I’m hoping schools kind of leave these things alone so parents can punish their own kids for things that happen off school grounds.”
Stratton is glad the case has been settled, and said the humiliation and emotional distress caused her grades to suffer. She hopes the district has learned an important lesson-to stop trying to discipline kids for things done after school hours and off school property. The ACLU’s lawyer maintains that the girl did nothing wrong. She simply complained about a teacher-something most school kids do from time to time. There were no threats or libelous statements in any of her comments.
The issue again raises the question of how much, if any, access to a person’s social media accounts a school or company is entitled to. For a time, some companies were demanding Facebook and Twitter passwords as part of the hiring process, something that has been made illegal in most states. Should the same be true of schools in regards to demanding student social media passwords? Or is it okay with parental permission? It should be noted that according to Facebook, it’s a violation of the user agreement to give your password to any third party. What do you think? Stop by our forum and let your voice be heard.