Albemarle County Public Schools social media class action suit The Schilling Show

The Albemarle County School Board has instructed local counsel to join a class action lawsuit regarding adolescent addiction to social media.

In context, the relevant Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) press release makes several key points:

  • ACPS is “concerned” about students’ use of social media
  • The various platforms have employed “deceptive practices to attract and addict students”
  • The Division is incurring substantial costs in assisting and supporting students harmed by social media-inflicted injuries to their mental health”
  • Social media use may lead students to “addi[c]tion, suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders”
  • ACPS seeks financial “recovery of funds that have been funneled into “students’ mental health care”
  • Fund-recovery is not ACPS’s primary goal; instead the Division seeks to force social media companies to alter “deceptive practices” and also, to show ACPS families that the Division is “concerned about their well-being”

This action comes on the heels of Florida legislation, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, that will ban social media use by children 13 and under.

However, upon deeper examination, the ACPS lawsuit appears to be a thinly veiled virtue-signaling device—in addition to a money-grab.

To wit:

  • Where is the ACPS statement on responsible use of social media or advice to discontinue social media use (as the Division recently released regarding responsible firearm storage)
  • Where is acknowledgement that ACPS perpetrated a dangerous and destructive fraud on its students by participating in COVID lockdowns, which lasted nearly two years and took an incalculable toll on student mental health and achievement
  • Where is the ACPS promise to address skyrocketing violence and lawlessness in County schools, which also has inflicted extremely negative impacts on student well-being
  • Where is ACPS proposal for legislation to ban social media for youth—as Florida has done—since social media has proven to be addictive and destructive
  • Where is ACPS statement on specific uses of funds and projected costs of provided mental health services, should an award be granted
  • Where is ACPS solicitation for proposals of other class action suits to initiate or join regarding other harmful-to-children institutions and industries (i.e. Hollywood, the music industry, fast food, big pharma, big medicine, video games, abortion-industrial complex, etc.)

Absent acknowledgment of the above and directed actions to remedy, it can be surmised that the opportunists at Albemarle County Public Schools are merely grandstanding on the social media issue in hopes of appearing virtuous—and ultimately, hitting the litigation lottery.


Read the entire ACPS press release:

DATE: March 29, 2024
CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
 
Albemarle County School Board Directs School Division Counsel to Enter into Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Albemarle County Public Schools
 
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia)—“I know that I speak for all members of the School Board of Albemarle County when I say that we are concerned about our students’ use of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and others,” Dr. Rebecca Berlin, White Hall District representative, said at Thursday night’s meeting.
 
Berlin continued, presenting concerns about the platforms’ deceptive practices to attract and addict students to gather personal data that is often sold to third parties and the detrimental effects to student mental health from the habitual use of these platforms.
 
“We are incurring substantial costs—not only in dollars, but in our most important assets: our children—to assist and support our students who are suffering from social media-inflicted injuries to their mental health,” Berlin said.
 
The motion presented and unanimously approved at the March 28 meeting directs School Division Counsel Josiah Black to engage outside litigation counsel and join the lawsuit on behalf of Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS). The suit, filed in early October, alleges that social media platforms fail to adequately warn users about the mental health risks associated with their use, including addition, suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
 
“As a parent of two children, each navigating the complexities of social media, I carry a personal responsibility to champion the rights of these young children and their families,” Tom Cartmell, partner at Wagstaff & Cartmell LLP and leader of several committees established as part of this suit, told PR Newswire in December. “These corporate giants were well aware of the harm they were inflicting, yet persisted in their pursuits, at times exacerbating issues that resulted in personal injuries for these vulnerable children.”
 
Entering this litigation would give ACPS the opportunity for financial recovery of funds that have been funneled into the mental health care of our students if the defending parties are found liable. It would also give ACPS the opportunity to obtain future damages to fund initiatives to help support student mental health issues caused by social media.
 
“We may recover some damages on behalf of ACPS, but that is not really the primary goal. The most important goals are forcing these companies to change their deceptive practices and showing our students and their families that we are concerned about their well-being and will do what is necessary to support them in any way we can,” Black said. “As a school division, we have a responsibility to stand up for our students and their families, and joining this lawsuit is one way we can do just that,” he added.
 
Black will oversee the involvement of ACPS in this suit and be the point person for the division’s participation in this effort.

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Rob Schilling is founder of the multi-award-winning Schilling Show Blog and News, proprietor of Schilling Show Media; host of both the Schilling Show Unleashed Podcast and WINA's The Schilling Show heard weekdays at noon; husband; father; worship leader, Christian recording artist and Community Watchdog.

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