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Student Expelled for Facebook Posts Sues 2-Year College in Minnesota

A student expelled from Central Lakes College’s nursing program over his Facebook posts has sued the Minnesota institution, reports the Pioneer Press, a newspaper in St. Paul.

The student, 37-year-old Craig Keefe, says officials at the two-year college never explained what they had found objectionable in his posts or how he had violated the college’s policies. His lawyer called the episode “a huge, glaring absence of due process and a violation of his free-speech rights.” The lawyer, Jordan Kushner, also said he wondered how college officials had gotten access to his client’s private Facebook account, a move he called a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Mr. Keefe’s lawsuit says college officials complained in December about two of his Facebook posts as “disturbing,” one that used the expression “stupid bitch” and another that observed that there wasn’t “enough whiskey for anger management.” At a meeting with the officials, the lawsuit says, Mr. Keefe said the whiskey post was a joke and the Facebook account had recently been hacked. Two days later, the suit says, he received a letter indicating he had been expelled for “behavior unbecoming of the profession and transgression of professional boundaries.”

The lawsuit seeks reinstatement in the program for Mr. Keefe, who was just one semester away from graduating, and damages. College officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Pioneer Press.

Last summer the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected a somewhat similar lawsuit by a former University of Minnesota student who said she had been disciplined—but not expelled—for Facebook posts that instructors had found threatening and in violation of student-conduct rules.

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