Northeastern Wayne School Corp. is joining a class action lawsuit that maintains social media sites are a cause of mental health issues among students.

At the recommendation of Superintendent Matthew Hicks, the Northeastern Wayne schools board agreed on Feb. 21 to join one of many lawsuits against social media companies. According to the Education Week publication, more than 200 school districts have filed similar suits.

“We are attempting to hold the companies accountable and will use any proceeds for education of students in the safe use of social media,” Hicks said.

In a Jan. 31 article, Education Week reported, “In a nutshell, the lawsuits allege that social media companies have designed highly addictive products that are harmful to mental health and that they have marketed them to youth who are in a developmental stage that makes them uniquely susceptible to manipulation.”

School officials report that social media is leading to increased anxiety among students. In turn, the students become more anxious and depressed, creating problems in school and forcing school districts to hire staff to help deal with it.

Google, which owns YouTube; Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram; ByteDance, which owns TikTok; and Snap, which owns Snapchat, are the four main companies targeted in the lawsuits, Education Week reports.

For their part, social media companies say their sites are designed to minimize harmful interactions and that a number of other factors contribute to teen mental health issues.

In other action last week, the board approved a resolution in support of Indiana’s goal of having 95% of third graders reading at or above grade level by 2027, as measured by scoring on the statewide IREAD3 test.

With more than 90% of Northeastern students already scoring at or above grade level, “We believe with the science of reading strategies we are implementing, we should be able to hit the mark,” Hicks said.

The board also approved hiring an assistant principal for Northeastern High School. Tiffani Thornburg is replacing Clayton Smith, the former assistant principal who became middle school principal earlier this month. She has been a secondary curriculum coach at Centerville-Abington School Corp.

The board approved transferring $350,000 from the education fund into the rainy day fund, where it can be spent for unexpected contingencies. The rainy day fund will have about $1.1 million in it.

The board reviewed the following personnel actions.

  • Extracurricular activities: Kraig Rose, NHS GSA sponsor; Steve Hornak, NHS Gamers Club sponsor; Daniel Eisenhofer, NHS band director; Wes Oler, NHS boys golf and girls golf coach.
  • Personnel changes: Samantha Comiso from ESSR behavior interventionist to part-time teacher aide; Meghan Scales from English teacher to math teacher.
  • New hires: Tiffani Thornburg- NHS assistant principal; Taygan Dalbey, NMS teacher aide; Amy Kenworthy and Darlene Whichard, custodians; Elizabeth Arroyo, NHS permanent substitute.
  • Departures: Courtney Fudge, NES teacher aide; Emma Slick, Northeastern Early Learning Center teacher aide
  • Retirements: Beverly King, NELC; Janel Wetzel, NMS; Scott Johnson, NHS

The board’s next regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in the student services building, 7295 N. U.S. 27, Fountain City. The public may attend.


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A version of this article appeared in the February 28 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.