Washington state search-and-seizure controversy sends shockwaves
A Washington school district’s discipline policies came under fire recently following an Everett middle school’s questionable handling of a cyberbullying incident.
Samantha Negrete, 14 of North Middle School in Everett was called into the vice principal’s office to assist with an investigation on cyberbullying between students at the school. The administrator ordered Negrete to open her personal Facebook page and show him posts. At the time, he did not allow her to log out of the page and did not contact the student’s parents.
The case is being evaluated by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who have deemed the incident an invasion of the student’s privacy that should have been protected under both federal and state laws. The ACLU is making a case that the the student’s Facebook page was involuntarily and improperly searched, and demanding that the school district apologize to the student.
Many public school students, especially student-athletes in Maryland, have been coerced into divulging or providing administrators or coaches access to their private social media content.
The Maryland chapter of the ACLU is currently lobbying to push through legislation that would protect students from such an invasion of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. MD House Bill 1332 seeks to protect students from invasions of privacy by educational institutions. If passed, the bill will prevent schools in Maryland from requesting or requiring personal information, specifically access to social media. If voted in, H.B. 1332 will be enacted on July 1, 2013.
For more information, the ACLU released an comprehensive report entitled Youth Rights and Responsibilities in Public Schools for Washington State.
This post was written by Patrick Hoover, Esq.