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Minnewaska Area district sued by ACLU on behalf of Minnesota teen over student's free speech rights on Facebook

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GLENWOOD -- The Minnewaska Area School District and the Pope County Sheriff's Office have been sued for allegedly violating a student's free speech and privacy rights.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed the suit on Tuesday. The ACLU says the district and the Sheriff's Office violated a student's rights in two instances related to Facebook, according to a release from the ACLU.

According to the release, a student identified as R.S. posted a comment, while at home, on her Facebook page about her dislike of a school staff member. The school learned about the comment, and the student received detention and was ordered to write an apology to the staff member.

The student was given an in-school suspension and barred from a school field trip after she cursed on her Facebook page about someone's reporting her to the school, according to the release.

In its lawsuit, the ACLU contends that the punishment violated the student's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the violations of R.S.'s constitutional rights.

Later, the student was brought into a school administrator's office where she was coerced to turn over login information to her Facebook and email accounts, against her will, according to the release. A deputy and two school officials were allegedly present.

The school officials demanded the login information because of allegations that she had online conversations about sex with another student off-campus, according to the release.

The student was allegedly called a liar and threatened with detention if she did not provide access to her accounts. Her mother was allegedly not informed about the warrantless search until after it happened.

The ACLU alleges in the suit that R.S.'s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was also violated.

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