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Minnesota Student First Amendment

Minnesota Student First Amendment

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Published by jeff_roberts881

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Published by: jeff_roberts881 on Sep 13, 2012
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1
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTDISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
R.S.,
a minor, by and through her mother
 ,S.S.,
individually and on behalf of her daughter
 ,Plaintiffs,
Memorandum of Law & Order
 v. Civ. No. 12-588 (MJD/LIB)MINNEWASKA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICTNO. 2149; GREGORY OHL
,
 
 Minnewaska SchoolDistrict Superintendent, in his individual and officialcapacities;
MARY WALSH,
 Minnewaska MiddleSchool Counselor, in her individual and official capacities
;
 
 JANE DOE,
in her individual and official capacities
;COUNTY OF POPE; PAUL GERDE,
Pope CountyBoard Chair, in his official capacity
; TIMOTHY P.RILEY,
Pope County Sheriff, in his individual andofficial capacities
; GILBERT MITCHELL,
Pope CountyDeputy Sheriff, in his individual and official capacities
 ,Defendants.Wallace G. Hilke and Bryan R. Freeman, Lindquist & Vennum PLLP, and TeresaNelson, American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, Counsel for Plaintiffs.Timothy J. O’Connor and Teresa E. Knoedler, Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson,PA, Counsel for Defendants Minnewaska Area School District No. 2149, GregoryOhl, Mary Walsh, and Jane Doe.
 
2
I.
 
Introduction
This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss [Docket No. 13] anda request to file a supplemental brief [Docket No. 22] by Defendants MinnewaskaArea School District No. 2149, Gregory Ohl, Mary Walsh, and Jane Doe (“schooldefendants”). The Court heard oral argument on July 13, 2012.
II.
 
Summary of Case
This case comes before the Court at an early stage, when the Court hasheard only one side of the story—that told in Plaintiffs’ complaint. At this stage,the Court must consider those facts, recited below, to be true. As this caseproceeds, facts may be developed which change the Court’s conclusions.Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges a school official punished R.S.—a twelve yearold student at the Minnewaska Area Middle School—for two postings on herFacebook wall. One posting expressed her dislike of an adult school employeeand another expressed salty curiosity about who had “told on her.” Plaintiffsargue that the punishment of her out-of-school wall postings violated her FirstAmendment right to free speech. Plaintiffs further allege that school officialsforced R.S. to involuntarily surrender her Facebook and email passwords upontheir learning that R.S. and one of her classmates had an out-of-school sex-related
 
3conversation. They argue that the officials’ subsequent search of R.S.’s privateFacebook account constituted an unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment.Plaintiffs also assert a number of other claims under federal and state law basedon the same alleged conduct.The defendants argue the actions alleged by Plaintiffs did not violate theConstitution. They further contend that they are entitled to immunity because,even if a constitutional violation did occur, R.S.’s constitutional rights were not“clearly established” at the time of the challenged conduct.The Court here concludes only that, if true, the facts set out in Plaintiffs’complaint amount to violations of R.S.’s constitutional rights and that thoserights were clearly established at the time of the alleged conduct. The Court alsoconcludes that certain claims advanced by the Plaintiffs—civil conspiracy todeprive R.S. of her civil rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress—have not been sufficiently pled. The Court therefore dismisses those claims. Atthis early stage, the Court passes no judgment on whether the defendantscommitted the acts alleged by Plaintiffs or whether the defendants willultimately be found liable for such acts. The school defendants will be free toraise their immunity claims and other defenses after discovery in this case.

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