Michigan School Officials Spied On Parents’ Facebook Groups, Reported Them To Employers
Big Brother is watching. Well, at least one Michigan school district is.
One Michigan school district is under fire after school officials monitored the social media posts of parents who criticized the district’s COVID-19 policy, and then reported those parents to their employers. Specific Facebook groups “RCS Parents for In-Person Education” and “Conservative Parents for Rochester were heavily monitored.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Robert Shaner, the superintendent of Rochester Community Schools, made the calls to police because he was “concerned and scared” about the “aggressive” social media posts from parents. Shaner testified during a deposition on February 3rd, that he went as far as to call one parent's employer.
The deposition was part of a lawsuit filed by parent Elena Dinverno, a parent of two children at Rochester Community Schools. The suit filed back in May 2021 alleges that Shaner and a member of the school board contacted Dinverno’s employer and falsely claimed that she had made threats against the board. As a result, Dinverno lost her job at Blake's Hard Cider.
During his deposition, Superintendent Shaner defended the actions of the Rochester School District saying,
"Yeah, so again, I just want to be clear about the social media. We do watch it and try to make sure we know what's going on in our community, but that's not the only place that we get information on social media. Believe it or not, there are parents that support what we are doing, and they often share what's going on in social media with us as well...", he said."Yeah, we value the input of all parents, and we certainly want to keep our thumb on the pulse of the community, so we monitor social media very closely on all fronts and make sure we're responsive to the community".
According to reports, the lawsuit accused the district of retaliation in violation of First Amendment law and seeks compensation for “past and future economic and non-economic damages,” as well as an injunction from the Court prohibiting further retaliation. The school board claimed last week that the suit had been settled, but that has not been confirmed through a press release or news outlets at this time.