INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 07, 2012, 10:29 PM

ACLU suing Minnesota school over Facebook privacy violation

Glenwood, MN (WDAY TV) - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Minnewaska School District, near Glenwood, and the Pope County Sheriff's office for allegedly forcing a 12 year-old girl to give up her Facebook and email passwords. The claim says it's a violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Minnewaska School District, near Glenwood, and the Pope County Sheriff's office for allegedly forcing a 12 year-old girl to give up her Facebook and email passwords. The claim says it's a violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The lawsuit has certainly raised many questions about a student’s rights to free speech and unreasonable searches and seizures. When is it appropriate for law enforcement officials to get involved in school-related matters?

Lt. Tory Jacobson – Moorhead Police: “If we are doing a criminal investigation, we have probable cause. If we needed to we could draft a search warrant to try and obtain that information.”

The 23 page complaint alleges that the girl was disciplined for writing "she hated" a school hall-monitor in a Facebook post she made from home.

In a separate incident, the complaint says the student was called in to the Minnewaska Area Middle School office and forced to give up her log-in information after another parent found sexual conversations between her son and the plaintiff on the computer. A counselor, district employee and a deputy sheriff were present at this time.

For local law enforcement officials, whether or not legal, it's a reminder that everybody needs to watch what they say online.

Lt. Tory Jacobson: “We talk about photos, comments that you make and you should realize that you aren't going to be able to control who all sees it in the public when you put it out there.”

We reached out to Moorhead Public Schools, but administration refused to comment on their policy in such a matter. Instead we were directed to their Discipline Procedures. Under the Bullying section it says students can be reprimanded for "electronic expressions (e-mail, Facebook, Social Media) toward another student that are perceived as causing distress.”

The defendant and her mother are seeking damages to be specified at the trial, a declaration that the plaintiff's actions violated free speech and a direct apology.

Tags: