Home Waynesboro School Board postpones discussion to join social media lawsuit
Local, Schools

Waynesboro School Board postpones discussion to join social media lawsuit

Rebecca Barnabi
social media
(© Aleksei – stock.adobe.com)

School boards across the United States are finding they have more in common than construction needs, staff challenges and LGBTQ policy changes.

A Senate hearing on January 31 brought social media executives and parents who have lost children to suicide face to face. Each side testified their position when it comes to the effects of social media on America’s youth.

Lawmakers, including Roanoke County’s Sen. David Suetterlein, submitted legislation at the state level to protect youth. His Senate Bill 432 seeks to require parental consent before digital service providers could collect and use children’s personal data for advertising or other purposes. An 8 to 7 Senate committee vote continued the legislation to the 2025 lawmaking session.

Meta, the company that owns Facebook, went on the defense last week and hosted a Virginia media call in which it explained everything the social media platform does and has been doing to protect youth on Facebook.

However, approximately 400 school boards across the country are joining a lawsuit against social media platforms including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.

At its regular meeting Tuesday night, Waynesboro School Board postponed action on an agenda item and did not discuss the matter.

Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell said Friday that the school system will not comment at this time on possible pending litigation. The litigation would not be by Waynesboro Schools, but an opportunity for the school system to join a national lawsuit with hundreds of schools across the U.S.

On Saturday, WDBJ reported that Rockbridge County Schools are joining the lawsuit with 400 school districts in the country. Rockbridge County School Board told the news outlet studies find social media leads to “increased anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, harm caused by online bullying, impairment of self-control and regulation and sleep deprivation.”

Students’ learning environment has been affected by behavioral problems and classroom disruptions. Staff and school resources are diverted to handle mental and physical health issues that social media causes.

Rockbridge County Schools will be represented by the Timberlake Smith law firm of Staunton.

Roanoke School Board voted Tuesday to join the lawsuit, as reported by The R0anoke Times.

“Social media companies have developed products designed to promote compulsive and excessive use by school-aged children,” the board’s resolution said. “Adverse impacts on the mental and physical health and well-being of school-aged children caused by the compulsive and excessive use of social media platforms are manifested in the school environment every day.”

After no discussion, Roanoke School Board voted 5 to 1 to join the lawsuit.

‘Time for Congress to act’: Parents confront social media execs about harm to children – Augusta Free Press

Meta on defense: Social media company supports cohesive legislation for youth safety – Augusta Free Press

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.