Pregnancy, Babies, Parenting News & Tips

Sixth-grader wins $70,000 settlement after school demanded her Facebook password

By Jenna Iacurci / Mar 24, 2014 03:22 PM EDT

Tags : riley stratton, facebook, school, social media

  • Facebook
  • (Photo : Flickr/melenita2012) A sixth-grader won a $70,000 settlement after her school demanded her Facebook password.

A sixth-grader won a $70,000 settlement after her school demanded her Facebook password.

The student, 15-year-old Riley Stratton, posted a comment two years ago complaining about a hall monitor, in addition to engaging in a conversation of a "sexual nature" with a classmate on the social media site, according to reports.

Like Us on Facebook

At the time, Minnewaska school officials brought a nervous Stratton into a room, accompanied by a police officer, and coerced her into giving up her password - even though the cyber remarks happened off campus and after school hours.

"I was in tears," the Minnesota student told the Star Tribune Tuesday. "I was embarrassed when they made me give over my password."

The ACLU took up Stratton's case and helped her win $70,000 in damages. Minnewaska Area Schools also had to rewrite their policies to limit their "helicopter parent" abilities in monitoring students' online behavior.

"A lot of schools, like the folks at Minnewaska, think that just because it's easier to know what kids are saying off campus through social media somehow means the rules have changed, and you can punish them for what they say off campus," said Wallace Hilke, the Minnesota ACLU lawyer who argued Stratton's case. "They punished her for doing exactly what kids have done for 100 years - complaining to her friends about teachers and administrators."

Now schools can only access off-campus electronic records or passwords if there is reasonable suspicion that they violate school rules.

"Riley's really a hero to me, it's really quite a brave thing she's done," Hilke told CBS.

Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt did not admit any district liability in the incident, but knows the case brought to light the slippery slope of free speech via social media, especially when schools are hyperaware of cyberbullying.

"Some people think schools go too far and I get that," Schmidt told the Star Tribune. "But we want to make kids aware that their actions outside school can be detrimental."

Stratton is now being homeschooled because, she said, the dispute "was so embarrassing and I didn't want to go to any other school anymore."

© 2014 ParentHerald.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Let nature play a role in climate adaptation, experts urge: TRFN

Delegates take notes during a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 13, 2014.

Read More »

U.N. talks agree building blocks for new-style climate deal in 2015

Delegates listen as COP 20 President and Peru's Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal makes an announcement during a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 12, 2014.

Read More »

Paris climate summit faces tougher job after modest Lima deal

Delegates talk during a break at a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 12, 2014.

Read More »

Fractures are major cause of older women’s hospitalizations

Fractures are major cause of older women’s hospitalizations

Read More »

Cost of not supporting breastfeeding may be millions

Cost of not supporting breastfeeding may be millions

Read More »

Taking HIV prevention pill may not encourage risky sex: U.S. study

Taking HIV prevention pill may not encourage risky sex: U.S. study

Read More »

Sony hacking highlights challenge to CEO Hirai's 'One Sony' vision

An entrance gate to Sony Pictures Entertainment at the Sony Pictures lot is pictured in Culver City, California April 14, 2013.

Read More »

Amazon workers strike in Germany as Christmas orders peak

A Verdi union scarf is seen outside the Amazon logistics centre in Graben near Augsburg December 15, 2014.

Read More »

U.S. faces tough questions in Apple e-books antitrust appeal

A general view of an Apple store in the Manhattan borough of New York September 7, 2014.

Read More »

Ebola toll in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia reaches 6,583: WHO

Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun July 20, 2014.

Read More »

Shock treatment: what's missing from Sierra Leone's Ebola response

World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward gestures during a news conference on the WHO response and challenges to control the Ebola outbreak at the United Nations in Geneva December 1, 2014.

Read More »

Top court rejects Arizona appeal over abortion drug law

People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington November 10, 2014.

Read More »

Real Time Analytics