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Schools pay $70K to student who was forced to give up social media passwords

Court Said American Schools Have No Powers over Internet

A student was left devastated after her school made her give up passwords to Facebook and her email to check through her social media behaviour. The Minnesota school district has now been ordered to pay her $70,000 in damages.

school and social media privacy

Minnewaska Area Schools will pay the damages to 15-year-old Riley Stratton after she was hauled in front of school officials and a local police officer and forced to watch as they scrolled through her personal details and conversations online. It was an act of stupidity from the adults in this case, and they were rightly punished heavily.

The young girl stated that she was devastated at being put through the ordeal: “I was in tears […] I was embarrassed when they made me give over my password.”

What made matters worse was her mother, Sandra Stratton, was not even consulted or invited to attend the interrogation of her daughter.

school and social media privacy

“They never once told me they were going to bring her into the room and demand her password,” Sandra said. “I’m hoping schools kind of leave these things alone so parents can punish their own kids for the things that happen off school grounds.”

Stratton has had an uneasy relationship with education in the last couple of years, and the trouble started when she posted a comment about her school’s hall monitors. She expressed her hate for one of them for apparently being mean.

School officials got old of the information and even though the comment was made off school grounds, she was still punished and given an in-school suspension.

Attorney Wally Hilke took the case for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and her said that the actions taken by the school violated Stratton’s free speech rights, something that has been a talking point in social media recently.

Things escalated after the mother of one of the girl’s friends discovered that she was having sexual discussions with her son on Facebook. After a complaint about the content online, the school began an investigation that resulted in the violation of Stratton’s privacy.

school and social media privacy

The police had a say after the case and superintendent Greg Schmidt kept institutional relations afloat by saying “The school’s intent wasn’t to be mean or bully this student, but to really remedy someone getting off track a little.” Clearly the officer had no idea about the emotions that the young girl had to go through, as his justification was a poor one.

The result of all this means that there is a young girl who doesn’t want to go to school, and now has to have home tutoring. This could of course impact her socialisation within her peers as most secondary socialisation is done in education. The school have neglected this child in a big way and many officials should be thanking their lucky stars that jobs are still in tact.

Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Schools pay $70K to student who was forced to give up social media passwords Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, April 07, 2014 Rating: 5
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