Port Huron, MI asked in Education Law for Michigan

Q: Can I be sued for talking about an incident that happened at my kids school?

Hi there. There was a sexual incident involving 2 boys at my child’s school. It is a safety concern for me and other parents as well. Other parents, including myself, have been talking about this and sharing information with parents who were not aware because the school is trying to hide it. I am now being threatened with a lawsuit even though I have not mentioned who was involved. Could this lawsuit be upheld?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Tread lightly here. A lot depends on who is threatening you with a lawsuit. When you are dealing with minors in a school setting, it's going to be tough for you to prove what you are saying or discussing is factual truth unless you are a party to the action.

Ordinarily, most anyone has a right to say what they want about anyone short of a reckless disregard for the truth. However, anyone can also be sued for libel or slander. More importantly, when you are dealing with issues about crimes, you have a duty to be a little more sure of the facts. Of course, there is a big grey area between small groups of parents talking among themselves that little Jane committed sexual assault and posting the same on social media or otherwise telling all the parents, for example.

For what it's worth, unless you have first-hand knowledge to the contrary, you should know that schools take these sort of allegations seriously, and that a full investigation has likely happened - you may not agree with the outcome of that investigation, but if proper protocol had been followed, there's probably not much more to be done. Schools have been sued for not properly investigating such allegations or otherwise covering them up.

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