The Superintendent of the Rochester Community School district in Michigan, just north of Detroit, is being accused of spying on parents’ Facebook activities along with other social media platforms during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The allegations were leveled in a lawsuit recently filed by at least one parent.
Originally filed in May 2021 by Rochester parent Elena Dinverno, whose two kids attend the schools in the area, the lawsuit was recently amended after new information came to light. The new allegations now state that the superintendent was not the only one who spied on parents’ social media accounts, as another high-ranking employee of the school also scoured the accounts of parents’ online presences, searching for anti-COVID restriction material.
The suit also states that in at least one instance, one of the employers of the parent was contacted alleging falsely that the parent made threats against the school board and its members.
Along with the false threats, Dinverno and other parents in the school district received letters from lawyers of the school board to “cease and desist” from criticizing the school board claiming that the posts were “false and injurious to the Board, and threaten further injury if left uncorrected.”
“I have found at taxpayer expense they had high-level people spending hours monitoring parent’s social posts,” Diverino’s lawyer Sarah Gordon told the Detroit News.
Superintendent Shaner admitted that they do monitor parent’s social media postings, but not for nefarious purposes, saying, “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.”
The lawsuit is seeking “past and future non-economic and economic damages,” caused by the allegations against the parents, also stating that the school district’s actions violated the First Amendment by retaliating against parents and reporting them in at least one instance.