Rochester parents say district monitored them online
ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) – Parents at community schools in Rochester say their rights have been violated, saying the district is monitoring them online.
It all started in March with a social media campaign about the school’s COVID-19 policies. The parents say that after a recent court case involving the district, they uncovered a list showing more than 200 parents being monitored.
“How dare you? How dare you stalk me,” mother Stephanie Van Deal told the school board on Thursday.
Van Deal has three children in the Rochester Community Schools District.
She tries to figure out why her name was among those allegedly being monitored by the Rochester Community School District.
“I live on sarcasm and coffee. It would have been a joke,” Van Daele said.
7 Action News asked the mum if she had ever made any comments that would be considered harmful.
She said, “Not to my knowledge. If they got that, then it’s on them.”
In a recent lawsuit, a Rochester Schools parent accused the school district of “snooping” and violating his First Amendment rights on COVID-19 policies.
The school district and the parent settled the lawsuit last month.
Now that the case is over, documents and details are being released, including the names of people the district was monitoring.
Heather Mehls’ name was also on that list. She has three children in the district.
“A little scary like wow, that’s what our school district does,” Mehl said.
“It was even in the deposition that someone spent 70% of their day monitoring social media,” Van Daele said.
She refers to a deposition with headteachers that can be found in line.
7 Action News asked the district about the list of names.
In a statement, they say:
“Rochester Community Schools does not have a list of names of parents who are on social media. Additionally, Rochester Community Schools does not have personal social media accounts under surveillance. As a listener responsible and respectful, Rochester Community Schools pays attention to newspapers, radio, television news, social media and members of our community to ensure that we are responding to any concerns or potential safety situations.”
Van Daele has a question for headteachers: “Do you think I’m a threat to you? What kind of paranoid fantasy land do you live in?”
Parents say they were just talking about district and school board back-to-school decisions during the pandemic.
“None of us, at least from my perspective, have ever done anything crazy against the district, just fighting to get our kids back to school in person,” Mehl said.
“What I hope is that the council will hold people accountable for carrying out this task,” Van Daele said.
Full statement from the school board:
“In response to your request, Rochester Community Schools does not have a list of names of parents who are on social media. Additionally, Rochester Community Schools does not have personal social media accounts under surveillance.
As a responsible and respectful listener, Rochester Community Schools pays attention to newspapers, radio, television news, social media and members of our community to ensure that we address any safety concerns or situations. potential. The safety and well-being of our students, staff and families is always our priority. Recent tragic experiences of school violence in other districts demonstrate the importance and responsibility of any school district to take threats seriously, report them to law enforcement, and ensure the safety of the community. community. Students, staff, and families are also encouraged to report information if they see or hear something that doesn’t seem right. We realize this has been a difficult time for many in our school community and we recognize that our families may be coping with the pandemic in very different ways. Nothing about this pandemic has been routine, easy or predictable. As we all go through the frustration, stress and challenges of a two-year pandemic, Rochester Community Schools continues to focus on the education, growth and well-being of the 15,000 students enrolled in our schools. , their families, more than 1,500 RCS staff members and the community.
Rochester Community Schools will continue to move forward with great purpose and will be committed to providing the best learning options for our students in the safest environment possible.”