In September 2014, ACLU-TN joined with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to oppose a Williamson County Board of Education (WCBE) policy that regulates off-campus speech on social media and allows the unfettered searching of students’ electronic devices.
The policy required that students receive permission from a faculty or staff member before posting photographs of their fellow students or WCBE employees in online social media. The policy applied to photos taken off school property and at non-school events. The policy also violated the Fourth Amendment by requiring that students allow WCSB to monitor and collect data on devices which students bring to school for use in school activities.
The district’s policy raised immediate concerns for Williamson County father Daniel Pomerantz, who worried that his child’s constitutional rights were being violated. After he refused to sign the policy on his daughter’s behalf, Pomerantz was informed that his daughter would be denied the opportunity to participate in classroom activities using the school’s computers. Pomerantz ultimately signed the policy under protest, stopping the exclusion of his daughter from meaningful educational experiences. However, his concerns remained and he contacted ACLU-TN and EFF for assistance.
On October 27, 2014, ACLU-TN and EFF sent a detailed letter of concern asking that WCBE rescind and revise its policies concerning social media and personal electronic devices. WCBE responded and changed its policy to address some of the concerns we raised. After continuing to work with the WCBE’s attorneys, the board agreed to address the remaining issues in the policy.
ACLU-TN and EFF Letter to Williamson County Board of Education (October 27, 2014)