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Teachers: Should schools be able to search student cell phones?

Comments: 8

What both positions fail to realize is that the Supreme Court has already decided several cases dealing with the consitutional rights of students, including privacy. Students do not surrender the rights "at the schoolhouse gate," but they are limited. Under New Jersey v. TLO, administrators have the right to search students when there is reasonable suspicion of either a rule violation or a law violation. If the administrators have reason to believe that a phone was used to "cyberbully" then a search of that phone would be permissible under law. Absent reasonable suspicion, student's privacy is protected, including their phones.

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David Aldred
Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association
Tampa, FL

In reference to "Search of students cell phones": The answer to this question seems very simple to me. If the school policy is to permit cell phones, then the children should be allowed to maintain privacy. However, if the school policy is not to permit cell phones in the building and a student pulls out a cell phone in disobedience of that policy, then that student has given up any right to privacy. Such a threatened loss of privacy, I believe, will act as an additional incentive to obey the school rule.

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Alan Bronstein
PFT
Elkins Park, PA

I say yes because technology is now a fast way to get into trouble. Students as well as some teachers don't keep up with new laws about some technology. Teachers can protect the student and inform the parent of any wrong doing on the cell phone. After all, the school is like the students' surrogate parent, so there are no rights infringed upon. Parents cannot see everything and sometimes depend on that extra pair of eyes for support. Children make poor choices and it is up to us to help guide them even if we have to go through their phone, but only if we suspect wrong-doing. It takes a village to raise a child in today's technological world.

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George Roycroft
BTU 314
Catonsville, MD

Absolutely not......the school should not have "....access to personal data..." Teachers are not the parents and should not have that role......next will be 1984 by George Orwell?

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maria montanile montanile
Classroom Teachers Association
tampa, FL

As educators, we have an obligation to protect every child on our campus. Once a child comes on campus, the good of the collective is paramount and rights to privacy are secondary. If a district policy prohibits cell phone use during the instructional day, those who violate that policy open themselves up to have their cell phone searched. Leave the phone at home. If a parent needs to reach a student, they can call the front office and the front office personnel can get a message to the student. Otherwise, leave the phone in the locker or backpack.

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Mark Durfee
Troy, TX

First, teachers are not parents...that's why we complain corporately when we're forced to be. We do not have the same rights as parents any more than police officers do. Students do not check their 4th amendment (or any other) rights at the door (the supreme court has repeatedly held that up). What's next? Require students to log in to their email or social networking account so we can view them too? How about we require teachers to do the same? Confiscating a phone is one thing...requiring access to the information contained there is something completely different. Let parents be parents and teachers teach.

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Allen Moore
Local 420
St. Louis, MO

Your "NO" entry teaches Kindergarten! Of course she feels this way. She doesn't have to deal with students sneaking around texting,taking pictures/video or having a phone ring during a lesson. Phones are supposed to be off and in a students bag/locker. If students can't go 6 hours without using the device there is a problem. If they are caught using a phone they should be checked. If schools can't check the devices brought to school they shouldn’t be allowed in. There are phones in the office if a child needs to call home or if a parent needs to reach them.

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Stacy Blanco
West Haven
Milford, CT

Whether we want to deal with it or not, students,especially at the high school level, have porn on their cell phones. In our school, a 19 year old male student used his cell phone to record a freshman girl performing oral sex on him. He humiliated the girl by sending the video out to his friends. I also know (my poor eyes) a female student had pics of male penis (what is the plural form?) on her cell phone. These young adults may be classified as "children" by the system, but they are in possession of child porn via their cell phones. When adults try to tell them that this is illegal, they pout and say we just want to ruin their "fun".

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Tessa Riehl
Brooklyn UFT
Queens, NY

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