A teacher who demanded access to a student’s Facebook account to investigate threatening and offensive remarks is immune from a lawsuit because it was not clearly established that such a search would violate the student’s rights, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The case stems from a 2007 feud between two Mississippi high school cheerleaders and raises the question of whether school officials may demand social-media account and password information from students.
But the only issue decided by the three-judge panel was whether the teacher and other officials had what is called qualified immunity in the lawsuit filed by the student. The court said the school officials at that time “did not have fair warning” that they could not access a student’s social-networking account.
A version of this article appeared in the September 23, 2015 edition of Education Week as Teacher Immune in Suit Over Facebook Search