Everett, WA – A complaint of cyber-bullying prompted an Everett district school board vice principal to search a student’s Facebook page against her will, an action that has the American Civil Liberties Union now demanding that the school district apologize to the student for pressuring her to make her personal page available for investigation.
Superintendent Gary Cohn received a letter from the ACLU on Friday related to the event which involved a North Middle School official and student.
Linda Mangel, an attorney for the ACLU, said, “Our hope is to work together with the school district to find a resolution to this that allows Samantha to return to a safe and welcoming school environment.”
The student, Samantha Negrete, said that she did not willingly allow the school to search her Facebook page.
Bryan Toutant, North Middle School’s vice principal and official that requested access, is being asked to relocate to another school until the end of the year because, according to the ACLU, Samantha is afraid that “he will seek to abuse his power and punish her for reporting his illegal search.”
The student is also reportedly being harassed for making the complaint. Allegedly being called a snitch and tattletale.
The ACLU wants other students to be notified that Samantha’s Facebook page was searched against her will; that digital privacy rights be openly explained to students; and that a new district school board policy be introduced that outlines when school officials are legally allowed to access student Facebook pages and other online information.
School board president Jeff Russell said that he would talk with Cohn to determine if district school board policies needed revision.
Mary Waggoner, a school district spokeswoman, said, “If something was done that was inappropriate, we would always apologize.”
Next week it’s expected that the North Middle School will have a report finalized on the incident and any action taken against the vice president will be announced following a review by the district’s superintendent.
Waggoner further said that Toutant had not been at North Middle School this past week due to the investigation of the student’s Facebook page.
What are your thoughts? Should student’s Facebook pages and other online content be treated differently?