Children's Facebook privacy is at the center of a new lawsuit filed against Minnewaska, Minn. schools.
An ACLU news release says the student, referred to only as "R.S." was taken into a school administrator's office where she was "coerced" by school officials and a local deputy to give up her Facebook password "because of allegations that she had online conversations about sex with another student off-campus." The ACLU alleges the girl was "intimidated, frightened, humiliated and sobbing" during the interrogation.
"R.S. was called a liar and told she would be given detentions if she did not give the adults access to her accounts," the release says. The student's mother wasn't told about the search until it had already happened, according to the release.
"Students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the school house gate," Charles Samuelson, Executive Director for the ACLU-Minnesota said in the release. "The Supreme Court ruled on that in the 1970s, yet schools like Minnewaska seem to have no regard for the standard."
Lt. Tory Jacobson of the Moorhead Police told WDAY, “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.”
Officials told CNN the school district acted responsibly.
"The district is confident that once all facts come to light, the district's conduct will be found to be reasonable and appropriate," the district said.
The ACLU's cooperating attorney, Wally Hilke saw it differently.
"The trauma that these incidents have put R.S. through is completely uncalled for: She was intimidated, frightened, humiliated and sobbing while school administrators were scouring her private communications," Hilke said in the release. "These adults traumatized this minor without any regard for her rights."