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ACLU: settlement finalized in case over Minnesota student’s Facebook page

An American Civil Liberties Union suit against a west central Minnesota school district that punished a student for a Facebook post has been settled for $70,000, the ACLU says.

The Minnewaska Schools also will change its policies under the settlement.

The school district approved the settlement late last year, the Pope County Tribune reported; a federal court just approved it.

The case involved a then-6th-grader who, at home, posted on her own Facebook page that she didn’t like a school staff member. The suit said she was given detention and forced to write an apology. She was later kept from a field trip. And school officials later made her give them her password and searched her Facebook page, with police present.

Said the ACLU:

As part of the settlement the School District agreed to change its policies to better protect students’ privacy and train its staff on the new policy to ensure it is correctly followed. The School District also agreed to a $70,000 settlement which will be divided between the Strattons, for damages, and the ACLU-MN to cover case costs and support future ACLU-MN efforts to protect the civil liberties of Minnesotans.

The ACLU-MN statement quotes the punished girl, Riley Stratton, now 15, who has since changed schools when her family moved for unrelated reasons:

“I am so happy that my case is finally over, and that my school changed its rules so what happened to me doesn’t happen to other students. It was so embarrassing and hard on me to go through, but I hope that schools all over see what happened and don’t punish other students the way I was punished.”

 Minnewaska School Board Member Jim Peters said at the time of the board’s approval:

“It’s a compromise, not everybody gets everything he wants. It’s not exactly what we would want, but we have insurance for this kind of thing.”

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