Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

School Officials Accused Of Violations In Using Student's Mobile Phone

from the due-process? dept

The question of mobile phones in schools has come up many times - and the general opinion towards them seems to change with the times. It used to be that they were banned, but following Columbine and September 11, many schools changed their minds, realizing that phones serve a safety purpose as well. More recently, schools are banning them again as they fear the overhyped potential of camera phones to cause problems. No matter what, though, schools most schools are pretty strict in saying phones should not be used in class (for obvious reasons). Thus, it's not news worthy to hear of a mobile phone being confiscated from a high school student by a teacher and a a school administrator. However, for them to then take that phone, check its text messages and voicemails, call other students in the addressbook and send out deceptive text messages seems to go well beyond what should legally be allowed. The teacher and the assistant principal involved claimed that they believed the student was involved with drug dealing after reading a text message from his girlfriend asking for a tampon (which they claim is common drug slang). Of course, that means they read the text message before they suspected him of any drug dealing activities. Furthermore, to then call other students and demand they come down to the office, as well as sending deceptive text messages to others seems to go well beyond what is acceptable practice in confiscating a phone. The family of the student is now considering taking the case to court, while the school district is still trying to defend their actions. The article linked here has quite a few details behind the case, so it's definitely worth reading.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Michael Giagnocavo, May 3rd, 2004 @ 3:11pm

    Isn't that unauthorized access to a computer syste

    A modern cell phone is a computer. So by accessing his messages, they should be charged as they would be if they had accessed his email.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2004 @ 8:59am

    No Subject Given

    It's probably been said before, but this is a slippery slope. While on the one hand parents want schools to be safe, disciplined environments, they don't like it when administrators overstep the bounds of what is considered reasonable. Zero tolerance is supposed to combat this, but in fact, it makes the situation that much worse.

    I think they should just outright ban the phones, unless you have a special need to have one. Laptops doubly so. The network security implications alone need be reason enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    aNonMooseCowherd, May 4th, 2004 @ 10:42am


    Sounds like forgery (for sending text messages in someone else's name) as well as illegally using a computer without permission.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Frozen Chrome, May 4th, 2004 @ 11:58am

    An idea

    "Before we start the class, could all students please place their cells phones in the sloted box over in the corner? You may retrieve them after class. Remember to either turn them off or put them in silence mode. Anyone caught with a cell on their person during class, let alone using one, will be requested to leave the class immediately. Thank you." The students begrudgingly followed the request...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2005 @ 5:36pm

    No Subject Given

    what you wrote here is exactly what happend to me. an adminastrator at my high school took my phone and read my text messages to my boyfriend and then searched him. i was online researching to see if that was allowed when i came across your story and saw that they were almost exactly the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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