If a school principal opened the doors to adult sexual predators and gave them the means and access to regularly communicate with students on school grounds – there would be no question of legal liability for whatever harm was inflicted on those children as a result. But what if the means and access was via a school laptop? Do schools bear a legal duty to monitor district-owned electronic devices to prevent predators from using them to gain access to kids?
Plaintiffs in a newly-filed Florida sexual abuse lawsuit against a county school board say: Yes.
According to the Miami Herald, a mother is suing a Florida school district because she said her daughter met a predator online while using a school-issued laptop. The 11-year-old was allegedly groomed, kidnapped, and sexually assaulted by the man who first made contact with her through a social media app that she used regularly on her school laptop. The laptops were issued when the school district shifted to remote learning during the pandemic. During this time, there were reportedly on protections to block social media on the devices.
Early into the start of the 2020-2021 school year, the girl was contacted by a 26-year-old man on social media. According to the civil complaint, the man expressed a desire to have a romantic/sexual relationship with her, said he wanted her to move into his home, and he planned to tell everyone that she was a young relative of his. On more than one occasion, he tried to get her to leave home, promised to buy her a new phone, and asked her to provide illicit photographs of herself. Again – all of this was done on her school-issued laptop, on school days, and during school hours. Continue reading