Will Lee County Schools join multi-state lawsuit against TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube?

Reporter: Annette Montgomery Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Lee County Schools may soon join the list of school districts currently in a multi-state lawsuit over social media.

“I think we all realize that the social media… to me is a bigger problem than the Juul, and I think having the social workers and psychologists better funded… I want to proceed as soon as possible,” said Lee County School Board member Armor Persons.

The Lee County School Board is considering joining the list of school districts pursuing a lawsuit against major social media companies: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok.

The law firm Wagner and Cartmell mentioned the toll social media plays on students’ mental health and the result of the toll it takes on a school district’s resources.

“It’s a drain of the resources. It requires additional student support services. It requires more intervention and policing, investigation and that type of thing,” attorney Michael Cutler said. “It is associated with mood alteration and behavioral issues, so it looks like addiction in all of its forms.”

It’s an addiction, they said, that is not only impacting the youth, but ultimately the place where they spend most of their time: school.

“The potential benefit of recovering assets for us to use for our student’s mental health benefit is great,” said Chris Patricca, a school board member.

For the most part, every board member said they wanted to move forward without joining the lawsuit, but not before asking an important question.

“Of course, I think that kids should not be on Facebook or TikTok or any of those as much as they are, and that includes adults as well, but how do we prevent that from happening in this suit?” said school board member Debbie Jordan.

“I think the point for each school district would be like with the vaping, so do we develop programs, whether it’s mental health programs, intervention programs? There’s a monetary component,” Cutler said.

If they decide to join, the district will not pay anything if they lose the lawsuit. If they win, the money will go towards mental health and intervention programs to help students.

The school board moved to allow public comment during their board meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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