Target: Minnewaska School District Superintendent Gregory Ohl
Goal: Apologize to student for forcing her to give up her Facebook and e-mail passwords
Recently, a 12-year-old student in Minnesota posted a message on Facebook saying that she “hated” a school employee for being mean. The student, identified only as R.S., was forced to give school officials passwords for her Facebook and e-mail. The school had no right to demand R.S. give up her privacy. Her Fourth Amendment rights were clearly violated, yet the school refuses even to apologize for the incident.
R.S.’s Facebook page was the subject of scrutiny multiple times. After posting a negative message about a hall monitor, she was given detention and forced to apologize. When complaining about this first incident on Facebook, R.S. was suspended and forced to miss a class ski trip. The final incident involved a guardian of another student complaining that the two preteens had a conversation about sex via Facebook. R.S. was interrogated by school officials and a deputy sheriff until she gave up her passwords. She was called a liar and humiliated in the course of the interrogation.
R.S.’s right to privacy was clearly violated in this incident. Every controversial post she had made on Facebook was done from her personal computer after school hours. Her mother was not allowed to be present for her interrogation or the search through her personal e-mails and posts. The school invaded the privacy of a young girl without reasonable cause, and continues to stand by their actions. Moody posts and a conversation about sex between two young adults are clearly not cause for alarm, and certainly not cause for this violation of privacy. Demand that school officials apologize to R.S. for her unjust and illegal treatment.
Dear Mr. Ohl,
Recently, school officials at Minnewaska Area Middle School forced a 12-year-old girl to reveal passwords for her Facebook and e-mail. The girl was interrogated, humiliated, and called a liar until she revealed the passwords. The only reason the school had to do this was an allegation of a conversation about sex between the girl and another student. The girl’s Facebook had unjustly been the subject of scrutiny before, and this incident showed a clear violation of her rights to free speech and privacy.
I ask you to apologize to this girl. A private conversation between two young adults should not be the concern of the school, and is certainly not reason enough to invade the privacy of the girl. There is no just reason for this young student’s Facebook profile to be the subject of such scrutiny. If there was a clear cause for concern, her mother should have been involved in the incident. However, she was not, and this incident was simply a case of school officials illegally bullying a young girl. Accept that the actions of the school were in the wrong, and apologize to the girl for them.
[Your Name Here]