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School Admins Demand Access to Students' Cellphones 836

Posted by Zonk
from the why-was-i-calling-paraguay dept.
Reverberant writes "School administrators in Framingham MA have implemented a policy allowing them to not only confiscate cell phones, but also to search through students' cell phone data as part of their anti drug/violence efforts. Students claim that the policy is an invasion of their privacy."
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School Admins Demand Access to Students' Cellphones

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  • Kids these days... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NexFlamma (919608) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:36AM (#15682219) Homepage
    What these kids don't understand is that simply by attending the school they lose the majority of their rights. Since they are minors, the school becomes their de facto guardian while they are there, and thusly, it has power that supercedes their rights.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:39AM (#15682230)
      Then (big leap, I do realise), what's to stop the schools from manditory cavity searches? I mean, after all, they are de facto guardian... And what about the students that are 18 and in school, is the school STILL the de facto guardian? If not, then what right (legally, besides anything their handbook says) would the school have to take the phone?
      • by JW.Axelsen.Sr. (986276) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:50PM (#15683809)
        what's to stop the schools from manditory cavity searches?
        fathers with handguns
      • by Aaron England (681534) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:52PM (#15683824)
        Student's "don't shed their constituiotnal rights... at the schoolhouse gate."
        - Tinker v. Des Moines
        • by Spock the Baptist (455355) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:51PM (#15684056) Journal
          Beyond the rights of the student...

          I gave my cell phone to my teen so that I could contact them when I need to.

          It's my rights that I'm concerned with here.

          While it is true that schools have in loco parentis powers those powers do NOT supersede my rights, authority, and responsibility as a parent.
          • by Frobnicator (565869) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:56PM (#15684279) Journal
            From TFA:
            School officials reserve the right to look through the cell phone when they suspect a student has drugs or stolen goods, according to Principal Michael Welch. ... The rule complies with federal law, which says a school can conduct searches when there is "reasonable suspicion" that a student has contraband.
            As for your other statement...

            If you need to get in touch with your kid, there is an established procedure for that: Contact the office. It may take a few minutes longer, but it won't end up disturbing the entire class while your kid figures out that it is his phone, digs it out of the bag, and starts chatting in the middle of a test or lecture.

        • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @04:31AM (#15686200)

          Student's "don't shed their constituiotnal rights... at the schoolhouse gate."

          Kids don't have any rights in the first place, constitutional or otherwise. How could they, when they have neither representatives nor guns nor any other way to defend them ?

          Generally speaking, you have rights either because you can take them through force or through goodwill of others. Since kids have no ability to use significant force, they only have the rights that the rest of us graciously give them out of the goodness of our hearts - not bloody much, in other words.

          It is horrible to be small and weak in a human society; this is simply another proof of that.

          Oh, and I'm sure that everyone who posts about school being within their rights to do this is going to complain, in ten or fifteen years, how these very same kids, now grown up, won't resist the government trampling their rights but simply bend over and take it since resisting will only make it worse.

      • by Miamicanes (730264) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:54PM (#15683830)
        I turned 18 in October of my Senior year in high school. I tried to sign my own permission form for a field trip (crossing out "son/daughter/ward" and writing "SELF" above) and hand it in, but was told I couldn't. Over the next few weeks, I pursued the matter up the bureaucracy chain until I finally got an appointment with the principal himself, trying to get someone to quote the exact written rule that actually prohibited legally-adult students from signing their own permission slips. The best I got was, "Look, that's just the way it is. If you don't like it, get a lawyer and take it up with the school board."

        My mom thought I was being silly... my dad was semi-amused... but neither would finance the lawyer, which unfortunately ended the matter there since I didn't personally have the cash to pursue the matter further.

        Looking back, I'm convinced that if hell exists, people die, then are forced to relive high school over and over for all eternity. I feel sorry for today's high school students. Things were bad in the late 80s, but dear god... the crap kids have to endure NOW from AuthoriNazi administrators is just over the top.
        • by Spock the Baptist (455355) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:34PM (#15684179) Journal
          Sounds like a situation that I ran across back in the 70s. A local 18 year old wrote a letter to the local school board, superintendent, and principal permitting him to grow his hair long. He argued that being 18 years old he was his own guardian, and therefore his guardian was always with him, thus the schools in loco parentis power was rendered moot with respect to him.

          At this point I along with several former students of the this ISD had been working to get the dress code dropped for three years. Several school board members, along with the principal, and superintendent had made public statements, both verbal, and in print, as to the reasoning behind in loco parentis. The afore mentioned 18 year old was at this point able to hoist them on their own collective petard.

          In the end he, the 18 year old, ran for the school board and won, and much merriment ensued over the next two years.

          STB
          • by dthree (458263)
            Michael Moore was able to get elected president of his school board while he was still in school. Sometimes talks about how great the last 3 months of his senior year was since he was the principal's boss.
    • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:40AM (#15682233) Journal
      Guess again, counselor. You don't "lose" your rights because they're violated.

      -jcr
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:37AM (#15682502) Journal
        Your statement is factually correct, but in the context of the discussion, it is neither here nor there.

        In order to attend school, the student agrees to hold the school & its officials to certain standards of conduct. These standards are different (lower and generally more arbitrary) than you would expect of the Police or a Judge.

        The student and their parent agreed to this.
        This includes students over the age of 18.

        The alternative is homeschooling.

        If a teacher or school official violates your rights, it will get resolved within the school system or the court system. Other than that, the most any student can do is say "no, I do not consent to be searched".
        • by PunkOfLinux (870955) <mewshi@mewshi.com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:55AM (#15682852) Homepage
          er... the STUDENTS agree to go to school? Ever hear of a little thing called compulsory attendance? It's more like the law agrees FOR them
          • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000 AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:25AM (#15682962)

            Ever hear of a little thing called compulsory attendance? It's more like the law agrees FOR them

            It's compulsory education not compulsory attendance otherwise children wouldn't be homeschooled and more and more children are being homeschooled. As far as I'm concerned policies like this, this cell phone policy, is one of the reasons parents are removing their children from public schools. Another policy I hate is the manditory drug testing many districts and schools have for participation in extra curricular activities. I especially hate the new "No Child Left Behind" from Bush. It stresses teaching for tests not learning and neglects subjects that are harder to measure progress in like arts, and music. Though I don't have any for a long tyme I've thought that if I ever had any children I'd home school them myself, teach what I could and get tutors for what I couldn't teach.

            Falcon
      • by gilroy (155262) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:27AM (#15683233) Homepage Journal
        Blockquoth the poster:

        Guess again, counselor. You don't "lose" your rights because they're violated.

        True but irrelevant. These students aren't "losing" rights by going to school. They don't have those rights to begin with. At least, that is the interpretation the school will take, and it's backed up by both laws and court decisions.

        A thing a lot of students don't like to hear is, they simply are not accorded the same status and rights as a majority-age citizen. I know a lot who find that autocratic and unfair, which is (ironically) their right.

        On the other hand, it's clear that a child at birth is not actualized enough to make informed and healthy choices. So no matter how much we "liberate" children, there will be a lower end to it. Is 18 the right bound? I don't know. It seems to work more or less for most kids.

        Disclaimer: I am a high school teacher so of course I can be expected to side with The Man on this.
        • by SMS_Design (879582)
          I find it disturbing that people are willing to negate the rights of others so flippantly. "Oh hey, they're not really people. They don't need rights." The only reason why many people will do this is because they will never have to deal with the results.

          When I was in HS, I was very well capable of making my own decisions. I was a mature, intelligent, and informed individual. I did not like that my school to treated me like a sub-human creature, and would resist any time I was able. The result? Well, th
        • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:34PM (#15683746)

          A thing a lot of students don't like to hear is, they simply are not accorded the same status and rights as a majority-age citizen. I know a lot who find that autocratic and unfair, which is (ironically) their right.

          Yes it is, but I disagree with them. The UK has some pretty serious problems right now, and IMNSHO an awful lot of them stem from politically correct initiatives that affect how children may be treated and the rights they have. On the one hand, no forms of corporal punishment are now allowed in our schools, and parents must be wary of even smacking their children for fear of being accused of child abuse. On the other hand, antisocial behaviour has become one of the biggest problems facing our society. I've seen one of my neighbours confronting kids who were about to key the side of his car, and heard one of them shout at him that he couldn't do anything, because the kid was under 10 and he couldn't commit a crime - and I live in a pretty good neighbourhood compared to many places. Similar stories abound, often with responsible adults (including parents and teachers) winding up in court or otherwise under suspicion, while Joe Angelic seems untouchable even if caught red-handed doing something he shouldn't be.

          Now, it doesn't take a genius to spot the connection here. Children don't yet have an adult level of maturity and responsibility; that's why they're still children. Thus it is manifestly unreasonable to treat them the same way as adults and expect the same response. I refuse to support the NSPCC (the biggest child protection charity in the UK) while they maintain that an absolute ban on smacking children is appropriate and use the "you wouldn't smack an adult" argument. We can debate the relative merits of corporal and other forms of punishment, and there are always the "My parents smacked me and it did me no harm" and "Well, I raised a child just fine without ever smacking them" brigades. However, I think even their axiom here is wrong: we do use violence, if necessary, to enforce the law on adults. This is, ultimately, what police forces and the military do. It may be reserved for use as a last resort, but the threat is always there. By excluding this possibility on a far smaller scale, children are actually being given a higher status than adults!

          It happens that in this case, I do disagree with the rule. I think it's absurd that older children should have no default right to privacy, which is what this boils down to. You don't suddenly turn 18 and become responsible, and you're not automatically a menace to society at 17 years and 364 days. If there is a good reason for the adults responsible for that child to think they need to see something on the phone, that's one thing, but there must be a good reason.

          Ultimately, it all comes down to the rights, freedoms and responsibilities thing, as it usually does in these discussions. The two are, or at least should be, fundamentally tied together. As long as you have adults who are legally responsible for minors, they need to have some degree of authority, and the minors can't reasonably expect the same level of rights and freedoms as if they were adults completely responsible for their own behaviour. On the other hand, as children grow older and behave more responsibly, it is inappropriate to deny them any extension of their rights and freedoms to match. Getting the balance wrong, in either direction, will inevitably lead to problems either where children are undisciplined and irresponsible, or where adults take advantage of them inappropriately.

    • by Umbral Blot (737704) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:40AM (#15682234) Homepage
      That might be legal, but is it right?
      • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:48AM (#15682519)
        I'm starting to feel old...

        When I was a kid, we didn't have cellphones and certainly not in the classroom. If we wanted to "secretly communicate", we wrote little notes, and passed them on. If the teacher intercepted one, well.. I couldn't claim my privacy was being violated. You just could get "negative credits". (a system where teachers could give you these "credits", 10 of these credits ment wednessdayafternoon obligated study.) for distrupting the class. Ha, even carrying cigarettes would be reason to be expelled for 3 days... If they had a suspicion, they would have reason to search your jacket.

        Many people send their kids to school, trusting that school to take care of the wellbeing of these kids. And more and more as a pseudo-parent. If the school doesn't get the rights to somehow have an influence on (to not allow them to do just whatever they feel like doing) them. I believe that's a requirement for the all the other students and the student itself. In the case of the cigarettes; if your -caring- parents suspect you have been smoking, they'll search your stuff. Kids would love it if their parents only could search their stuff with a warrant, but things shouldn't work that way. In the time you're at school, they are expected to take over that function in a limited amount. If they screw up in the -caring- parents eye's they will have to argumentate why they just "didn't care about it" towards these parents. The oppinion of the child should matter not, as it's an individual but it's not yet an adult.

        Well I sortof agree you shouldn't do the drugsearches by the school by installing a "big brother" system. But on the other hand, these kids can stop using their phones during class or turn them off and that might be the conclusion if that school doesn't get a way to monitor the traffic, because most likely they feel out of control of the things going on in that school and want to get back a hold on the problem. When I went to public school, drugs were found by running drugsdogs through some classes occasionally, I believe that's a bit more effective then snooping your 1000+ students but it doesn't leave much of a good impression.

        • by pikine (771084) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @08:29AM (#15682614) Journal
          I worry that kids who grow up without knowing their constitutional rights will not ever learn to exercise them later in their lives. Unfortunately, taking a civil studies class doesn't help because the rights being taught in class hardly relates to the student's real-life experience.

          If you have been habitually giving up your rights since childhood, you will not hesitate to do so again when you're an adult.

          That is how I grew up. I can tell you, if I were stopped and interrogated by a police officer, I would let him search all over me, inspect my identification, all without a second thought. If the police showed up at my door, I would invite them in and let them look at all my personal belongings. That is because I was taught that if you didn't do anything wrong, then you should not be afraid to be searched. But searching without evidence of a crime is wrong.

          I never learned about any of these until I saw this video: How to avoid being arrested by cops [google.com]. Anyone should watch this.
          • by the_humeister (922869) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:59AM (#15683094)
            In these trying times, I must ask you: why do you hate America? Don't you see? Attitudes like that mean that the terrorists have already won! Why won't you think of the children?!?
        • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.vadiv@NoSpam.neverbox.com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:23AM (#15683210) Homepage

          But on the other hand, these kids can stop using their phones during class or turn them off and that might be the conclusion if that school doesn't get a way to monitor the traffic, because most likely they feel out of control of the things going on in that school and want to get back a hold on the problem.

          Erm, you didn't actually read the article. No one said anything about 'monitoring' cell phones, which, incidentally, would be illegal for anyone to do without a warrant. We're talking about searching cell phones.

          And no school or even college allows the operatation of cell phones during class. Not even, in theory, to send text messages. No one has a problem with that. Cell phone use should be restricted to out of class times, and it would be fine to restrict it to breaks only or even before/after school. No one has any constitutional problem with restrictions on cell phones, although for safety reasons students should be allowed to have them outside of the school day, at the very least.

          The problem is that this school feels they can search cell phones that happen to be on campus. Not 'used during class', not even 'in use', merely located on campus. And by 'search', we mean 'Go through the memory of', not 'flip open to see if something is sitting inside it', FYI.

          The previous excuses for searching lockers and bookbags were 'weapons and drugs'. You rather obviously can't have a weapon or drugs stored inside your cell phone. Even if they are searching for evidence of drugs, the original searches were allowed, with a warrant, under 'safety'...it's the same reason a cop can search you when you're arrested...drugs physically located at schools are dangerous, in theory, so they claimed, so they can search for them.

          Well, this really shows what the whole motivation for that thing was about.

      • That might be legal, but is it right?

        Even as I write this, I know I sound...well...compromised, but it is about relative right and wrong in some school systems. Ever witness what goes on in some public schools these days? In some cases, it is figuratively an urban combat zone. And while cell phone searches do not get to the root of the problem, the root is too deep to attack. I know this attitude sounds defeatist, but anyone who is disdainful of this remark is welcome to study the problem and come up wi
    • by Bogtha (906264) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:49AM (#15682259)

      What these kids don't understand is that simply by attending the school they lose the majority of their rights.

      What better way to indoctrinate the adults of tomorrow? They won't miss what they never had.

      • by mariox19 (632969) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:05AM (#15682698)

        You beat me to it, because I think this is the most important point of the whole issue.

        Part of the purpose of school, and in raising kids in general, is to socialize them: meaning, to raise them so that they will be able to live in society. I am not for minors having the full-fledged rights of adults; but, we have to remember that how we raise them will affect what kind of adults they turn out to be. For kids, school is, to a great degree, society. The society we create for them in school is the society they will learn to live with.

        When kids have to show ID at every turn, live out their day under the surveillance of security cameras, surrender their personal belongings on the whim of any authority figure, so on and so forth, it is far more likely that the great mass of them will grow up to be the kind of adults that will submit to an overbearing authority that allows them few rights.

        It's one thing when this kind of policy is instituted in a private school. I still think it's a bad idea; but, the parents sent the kid there and had a choice as to where to send him. But, if we are talking about a government school (though, the euphamism in the US is "public" school), this presents, in my opinion, a serious threat to our future. Public schools in the US hold a near monopoly in education; and though I am not going to accuse the government of a concious conspiracy to indoctrinate the youth of america with anti-liberal ideas, the results, if such policies become widespread, will be no different.

        To my mind, adults act as the custodians for the rights of kids: releasing various rights to kids as they become able to handle them responsibly. I'm all for adults being in charge; but any responsible adult realizes the grave responsibility he has towards the kids with which he has been given charge, and weilds that power in the service of raising kids to be responsible adults jealous of their liberty, rather than cowed wretches with no backbone in the face of authority.

        Kids deserve respect above all; and this needs to trump the illiberal policies instituted under the cover of promoting "safe schools."

      • I dropped out of an American high school at 15 and went straight to an international university instead, with the help of my parents. Why? I was a bright kid learning nothing and just a year and a half in had absolutely had more than I could stand.

        Even decades ago when this occurred, high schools in the U.S. had already shifted roles, from being institutions of learning to being social infrastructure instead. At least in the inner city, U.S. high schools exist in order to:

        - Segregate minors from the general
    • by Sigma 7 (266129) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:55AM (#15682273)
      What these kids don't understand is that simply by attending the school they lose the majority of their rights. Since they are minors, the school becomes their de facto guardian while they are there, and thusly, it has power that supercedes their rights.


      FYI, some of those kids in high-school are at or above the age of 18. Adults of sound mind do not have a legal guardian.

      Also, some cell phones are in the name of the student's parents. In this case, the student just has to keep it in "locked" mode, and tell the school to obtain the unlock code from the owner of the cell phone.

      The school claims it "is to improve security and stop the sale of drugs and stolen goods." The cell phone checking does absolutly nothing to prevent (or handle) these incidents since there is no record of numbers that are about to be called. In addition, the school does not have the investigative power to identify these items in question - this is handled by the police and they require a search warrent.

      • The cell phone checking does absolutly nothing to prevent (or handle) these incidents since there is no record of numbers that are about to be called.

        I'm in high school and in march last year we had a huge drug bust. How? Searching through text messages on a students phone, leading to others phones and looking through call lists, etc. There isn't much you can do when a few cops come into the classroom and tell everyone to put their phones on the desk and get out.
        • by houghi (78078)
          Those were cops and most likely they would have had a warrent. If not, they should have and all information obtained is null and void.

          But then I live in a country that at least pretends to care about privacy and has laws to protect it.
        • The cell phone checking does absolutly nothing to prevent (or handle) these incidents since there is no record of numbers that are about to be called.

          I'm in high school and in march last year we had a huge drug bust. How? Searching through text messages on a students phone, leading to others phones and looking through call lists, etc. There isn't much you can do when a few cops come into the classroom and tell everyone to put their phones on the desk and get out.

          This is an utterly terrifying thing f

          • I learned in highschool that your car could not be searched unless the police were in hot persuit of you when they caught you, or they had a warrant. Or of course, you concent.

            Police always ask if they can search through my car and I always say no. 90% just let it go, 10% proceed to search anyway, but those that did never showed up in court.

            If I had not learned that in highschool likely I would learn from TV and TV has become a testbed for what violations society will accept.
        • by icebrk (555349)
          Not much to do?
          Like say, NOT putting your cell phone on the desk?
          Saying NO, I don't consent to ANY searches?
          Turning OFF the phone (and being smart enough to have a security/SIM PIN Active)

          There are plenty of things to do, and although I'm not stupid enough to keep incriminating text messages (or send them) I have a good deal of private stuff on it (SMS and Photo) and there's no way I'd voluntarily let some pig look through that without a search warrant. It's thankfully been 5 years since High School I can't
        • by wowbagger (69688)
          Simple thing to do: DON'T CARRY A PHONE.

          I realize that is unthinkable these days, but ask yourself - do you REALLY need to be able to talk/text to your friends EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY? They are there at the school, more than likely - cannot you just see them face to face?

          And if you need to call home to tell your parents you are going over to George's after school - there's this really cool thing, kind of like WiFi, where companies create these hot-spots for telephony, and they even PROVIDE THE EQUIPMENT FOR
        • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
          There isn't much you can do when a few cops come into the classroom and tell everyone to put their phones on the desk and get out.

          No, Officer Pigford, I am not giving you the unlock password. If you want to, you're more than welcome to arrest me and see what a judge has to say. After a town/school wastes a sufficient amount of time with many such cases involving *totally* blank cell phone memories, they might be less inclined to intrude on students' privacy.

          -b.

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:14AM (#15682452) Journal
        In addition, the school does not have the investigative power to identify these items in question - this is handled by the police and they require a search warrent.
        If a teacher or school official has "reasonable suspicion", they can search you.

        You = Your person, your bag and your effects
        (No they can't strip search you)

        'Your' locker is usually not yours.
        Usually, school policy states it is the school's.
        This means it is always fair game to be searched.

        Your statement that teachers do "not have the investigative power to identify" is meaningless. They do have the power to investigate & they aren't making a legal finding of fact. If it involves suspected drugs or suspected stolen property, they're going to call the police, who will not require a warrant to do anything, since the teacher has already done the search.

        My guess is they want to poke through student's cell phones to dig up recent txt messages (I wnt 2 by drgs) and phone numbers. Now they have reasonable suspicion to extend their search(es). Evidence of any other crimes/violations of school policy are probably going to be fair game too.

        Moral of the story: If the school can, it will. Don't keep/take evidence of crimes at/to school.
        • by jdbartlett (941012) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:00AM (#15683097)

          You can read more about reasonable suspicion here [govtrack.us]. Disturbingly:

          The Supreme Court held in Earls vs. Board of Education of Tecumseh Public School District (2002) that random drug testing was `reasonable' and did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The Court also held schools served as `guardian and tutor', could exercise `greater control than those for adults' and had `important interests' in the health and safety of students. The Court finally held that schools did not need to show an `individualized suspicion' nor a `demonstrated problem of drug abuse' and there was no `threshold level' of violation that needed to be satisfied.

          Since it's been established that cell phones are fair game, could this ruling be used in defence of random cell phone checks?

          I'd ask what next, but I fear I already know [environmental-studies.de].

    • Property rights (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Antony-Kyre (807195)
      Since the cell phones tend to be the property of the students (whereas the lockers would be the property of the school), the school has no right to search a student's piece of property.

      Maybe they have the right to search a student's piece of property if there is just cause that a crime is being committed, but as for what the procedure is to take, I don't know. Depending on what it is, probably contact the police, contact the parents, and perform a search on the cell phone if the cell phone, which is student
      • Re:Property rights (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:45AM (#15682511) Journal
        ACLU of Northern California
        http://www.aclunc.org/students/guide/searches.html [aclunc.org]

        "Can the principal or a teacher search me?

        Yes, but only under certain specific circumstances, because you don't give up your right to privacy when you go to school. Under the law, if a school official wants to search you, there are two requirements. First, before he or she searches you, there must be a "reasonable suspicion," based on facts, that the search will produce evidence that you are violating the law or a school rule. For example, the principal would have to have specific information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a student is carrying a weapon, drugs or cigarettes. Second, the way he or she searches you should be "reasonable" based on your age and what is being searched for.
        These restrictions apply to searches of a student's person (i.e., pat down of clothes, emptying pockets) and any personal belongings, including backpacks, lunch bags, or cars (if they are on school grounds)."

        Reasonable suspicion = all your base are belong to school

        "Remember: if the principal asks if you agree to a search and you say yes, you can turn an illegal search into a legal search."
      • Re:Property rights (Score:3, Informative)

        by damian cosmas (853143)
        the school has no right to search a student's piece of property.

        The Supremes say otherwise, at least in the case of the purse of a drug-dealing student who made the mistake of getting caught smoking. See TLO vs. New Jersey [landmarkcases.org].

        I see no problem with digging through cell phone call records and old text messages, as long as there's reasonable suspicion. In the TLO case, for example, a girl caught smoking denied it, but a search of her purse quickly revealed not only smokes, but rolling papers, pot, and a list of
    • ...it has power that supercedes their rights...

      Your statement gives the schools too much power. Certainly the Supreme Court has, in my mind, given contradictory decisions. For example, the Supreme Court has allowed mandatory drug tests of students and censoring of student newspapers within limits. On the other hand, in the Tinker vs. Des Moines decision, the Supreme Court ruled "[i]t can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expressio

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:35AM (#15682495) Homepage Journal
      One thing that has been common among "progressive schools" is that parents lose many of their rights governing the activities of their children once they cross the threshold of the school. For a society which likes to admonish parents for not holding their children accountable, discipling them, many think its okay for schools to usurp the parents choices. If you diminish the values of parents the children will lose respect for those values and you get the problem you claim you were trying to avoid.

      In many areas of the country the schools have been too invasive into families and worse they are nearly immune to correction. This is just another symptom of failing schools. When on the downward spiral you make damn sure all those who can criticize you fear you in one way or another. An "unusual" mark on a child - automatic suspicion of child abuse. Too thin, child abuse. Too fat, child abuse. DFACs should know!!! Bad grades, must be from a bad home environment; again child abuse!

      Want absurd? One guy at work mentioned that a neighbor got a letter from the school's counselor. Seems the kid didn't like what he did or did not get in his lunch his mom sent him to school with. The school actually wrote a letter suggesting that the parents aceed to their child's wishes or give him money to buy a school lunch or snacks!!!

      Too many of the schools are run by arrogant self style intellectuals. Another person at work recently moved so his wife could teach in a new school district all to get out from overbearing peers whose views of how children and parents should be handled came close to being unethical. There are many good teachers and administrators but too many are cowed by those who know the system and use it againts "non-conforming teachers", students, and even parents.
    • Schools are only in loco parentis, as the legalese goes. Basically, they are obliged to take on some, but not all the responsibilities of the parent. In my opinion, this does note extend to activities that take place outside the school, such as cellular telephone calls.
    • Some of the posts are from folks who seem to have missed the fact that this is a high school, and most the kids there are required to attend by law.
  • Ringtones (Score:4, Funny)

    by MarkByers (770551) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:37AM (#15682222) Homepage Journal
    It's just a cunning plan to get lots of free ringtones.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @05:37AM (#15682223) Journal
    Yes, it certainly is. Kids, if any person demands to examine the contents of your cell phone, tell him to get a warrant. Call your parents, call the local press, and call a lawyer.

    -jcr
    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:41AM (#15682381) Journal
      Jane - Why don't I just go to Ms. Li and expose this whole cell phone spying thing?

      Ms. Morris - She already knows.

      Jane - Okay then back off or I'll tell the PTA.

      Ms. Morris - They know too.

      Jane - Congress?

      Ms. Morris - You're beaten Lane.

      Jane - How about if I call the three local TV stations and tell each one that the other two are running the story?

      Ms. Morris - Damn.

  • It is because of cases like this that we need better defined privacy laws, espcially for minors. I don't think the privacy laws currently enacted are necessarily bad, or being used in bad faith, but simply that they are vague enough that in many cases both parties might legitimitely believe that they are acting within the law.
    • Re:Bad Laws? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bhima (46039) <Bhima DOT Pandava AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:03AM (#15682295) Journal
      I am nearly 48 years old and I don't give a rat's ass about what some kid can or can not carry inside school grounds.

      But I *do* think that current privacy laws were enacted in bad faith and they are used in bad faith.
      And it is that very vagueness that allows their manipulation.

      As fars as children, cell phones, and privacy... If the school permits someone to carry a device within school grounds and they want to look at the contents of that device, they can go get a warrant... or they can go fuck themselves.
  • I don't agree with the principle, I mean I certainly believe it's an invasion of privacy. But there's still always a way around it. It's pretty simple: password protect your phone. I think all cell phones have it nowadays.
    • by davidsyes (765062) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:48AM (#15682521) Homepage Journal
      You're missing the point. Suppose that the State (state AND federal) government/s decide they are in league with MA. Now, suppose the act of locking the phone is "impeding with Justice/execution of state security laws". Now, the student can be suspended, or worse.

      Now, when will this happen to police officers, paramedics, state and federal contractors?

      Were I a parent or guardian, not only would my charge/ward/child keep their phone locked, they'd have it holstered in a combination-access belt that would be so difficult to remove that the school would give up or be charged with assault. Or, the clothing would be the phone- in which case removing it or attempting to access a data port would lead to nearly disrobing or excessively touching the kid. And, no, I'd NOT allow the school to order my kid to swap garments.

      Even worse of an implication is that if schools can rifle through student's phones and they DO find something interesting, what next? Do they have the right to archive that information? Call contacts in the lists? Turn it over to the police? Then what? Do the police have powers to start their own virtual "Friendster/Copster" of students? If Blast-a-chussets starts this slippery slope, then every state could do it or be ordered to. This could be a backdoor attempt by this wicked administration to angle in on youth and catalog them from cradle to grave.
  • What a shocker (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:06AM (#15682306)
    I'm not suprised at all by this.

    At my public high school in Texas, they do the exact same thing, in addition to a few other things...

    You're not allowed to leave campus for lunch, but students do anyway. However, if you get caught by security guards driving on their golf carts patrolling the student parking lot, they will search your car. If they find any "contraband" (pocketknife, lighter, drugs, OTC medicine including cough drops) you get an instant suspension. Here in Texas they love their Zero Tolerance laws.

    There is also another degredation of rights where I go to, pertaining to violence. If someone walks up to you and flat out punches you for no reason, you cannot do anything. If you fight back to defend yourself, you will be instantly suspended as well as the perpetrator. A kid last year was jumped by another student who stabbed him with a sharpened lead pencil, and when he fought back, eventually knocking the attacker to the ground and kicking him, he got suspended. He didn't even know his attacker.

    So, if you are suprised by this, don't be. It's sadly nothing new.
    • Re:What a shocker (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:14AM (#15682919)
      Are there any lawyers in the audience that can comment on whether a school can legally strip a student of the right to defend him or herself from physical violence? So far as I'm concerned, if I'm attacked I will use whatever means at my disposal to remove the threat. Period. I think any other creature on this planet would do the same. Even an amoeba will fight back.

      Personally, I'd rather be suspended (or expelled) than suffer serious injury: some bullies don't know when to quit. Matter of fact, I used to get the shit kicked out of me quite regularly in grade school, until my ex-Marine uncle taught me some self-defense. Oh sure, I still got the shit kicked out of me but at least I had the satisfaction of causing some damage, and it took more of them. Now, given a choice, I'll avoid a fight on principle. However, sometimes I wasn't given the option, and in those cases I fought back: on principle.

      If nothing else, I managed to restore my self-respect, and if you don't think that's important you probably don't have any. Self-respect is especially important to someone that is being bullied. The whole point of being a bully is to build up your own self-respect at the expense of someone else's, a kind of mental vampirism. The psychological damage caused by bullying is significant and long-lasting, and school administrators that deal with bullying by futher victimizing the recipients need to learn what food stamps are all about.

      Telling a child that he can't defend himself from a bully is insane, pacifist bullshit more suited to a hippie commune than a school where, I have to say ... KIDS FIGHT. They do, because there's always those few that are violence-prone, and unless the school is prepared to completely excise those bad apples from the student body they have no good reason to punish any other student for fighting back. Generally speaking, schools won't get rid of the complete assholes because they, of course, have "rights". You would think that the kids they beat up would have the "right" to a terror-free school day, but apparently that's not a priority.

      This is obviously just for the convenience of the administration who would rather not deal with the subtleties of why someone was beaten to a bloody pulp. That's unfortunate, because it is an awareness of just those details that can prevent further violence. So, let's take a kid that's already having a hard time, tell him "when you're attacked, don't even think about throwing a punch", and then when he's lying on the ground bruised and miserable we'll suspend his ass for fighting. That's one sensitive administration you have there: what I would take away from that would be "no, we're not on your side, we don't understand right from wrong, really we're on the side of the bullies that are terrorizing you so don't even think of turning to us for help."

      That is probably not the message they think they're sending, but actions speak louder than words.
    • Re:What a shocker (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pi_rules (123171) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @08:13PM (#15685109)
      However, if you get caught by security guards driving on their golf carts patrolling the student parking lot, they will search your car.

      Here's some advice that will serve you the rest of your life: Never let anybody search your vehicle or home unless they have a warrant. You have a choice. You don't think you do, but it's there. You can always just leave. Exit the premises. If they wish to continue their harassment then they'll need to find a cop and a judge to sign off on a warrant to search your car off premises.

      If they want to search it the next day do the same: Unlock the car, get in, and leave.

      There is nothing they can do, short of visiting violence upon you, to keep you under their control. If they do initiate violence upon you, well, let's address that now.

      There is also another degredation of rights where I go to, pertaining to violence. If someone walks up to you and flat out punches you for no reason, you cannot do anything.

      I'm 26 and this was pretty much the policy in our schools too when I went. Ignore it. If somebody attacks you knock their block off. Fight, and fight dirty. Got a book in your hands? Throw it at them -- when they duck or try and dodge it make contact. Use your surroundings. Floors are usually quite hard objects -- especially school hallways. Get 'em on the ground, get on top, and smash their freaking head into it. See if you can get a friendly high school wrestler to show you a few things -- like how to run a "double leg ride" and a "power half."

      Fight not to avenge, but to stop the threat.

      Sounds a bit extreme, I know, but I presume you're between 16 and 18 years old. The manner in which you act now will take a long time to shake out of your head, if it is ever possible.

      You're becoming an adult, and it's time to act like one. Adults should not submit to random searches by rent-a-cop, or even actual police without a warrant. Adults should not submit to violence visited upon them by thugs on the street.

      Sometimes this means making tough choices. Don't want to be searched? Don't leave campus. If you still decide to leave campus and somebody wants to search your car and you're not too keen on that idea just leave.

      If somebody commits an act of violence upon you you have to make a decision: Shall I presume that the attack will not immediately further and risk being beaten into a bloody pulp, possibly resulting in serious injury? Or should I defend myself and risk suspension?

      Hospital beds suck a lot worse (and cost a lot more) than a suspension. While the suspension can be pretty much guaranteed it is far easier to weather.

      In parting I'd like to make one final observation based upon my conjecture. I presume that you're between the age of 16 and 18 years old given that you can leave campus during school. Further, because this is Slashdot I'm going to presume that you are male. Consider this:

      You are at a time in your life when you are the most likely to resist authority. It comes with the age. You're also at a time in your life when there's as much testosterone flowing through your body as ever before which makes you the most prone to violent actions. If you are conditioned to accept authoritarian control of your life (searching your private property) and further conditioned to accept that violence visited upon you should be met with no resistance then it is going to be one Hell of a battle to get out of that mindset later on in life.

      If you don't stand up for your human rights at this juncture in your life because you're afraid of a suspension or a mark in your school record it will be infinately harder to do it when you've got a good job, a wife, and a family to feed on the line.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:09AM (#15682313)
    The kids just enter names like 'pot dealer' with the principles home number. They text threatening things to their friends in jest, all pre-agreed between parties. They enter 'Osama bin laden' with the number of their local FBI field office. They text each other about fictional big-time drug deals and terrorist plots. They overload the system with so much false information that the entire exercise becomes pointless and a huge administrative burden.

    The staff should give the pupils full access to their mobile phones as a gesture of good will, you never can be sure what those pesky teachers get up to in their personal lives.
  • by pipingguy (566974) * on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:19AM (#15682338) Homepage
    "Cell phone data" (depending on the device) could also mean stored info used to help with tests (as opposed to actual studying and learning) or "texting" answers to other students. Anti-drug/violence has nothing to do with this, but perhaps local, state or federal funding comes into play when schools get strapped for cash, so this is one way to get the money.

    This is a somewhat odd story, does Framingham have a serious drug-dealer problem or are they trolling for funding and government money?
  • What to do.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:21AM (#15682342)
    0) Before it happens: Set a password/pin code on your phone.

    When a teacher asks you to hand it over:

    1) Remove the battery (the switches the phone off _fast_, requiring password/pin to start it again)
    2) Hand over the phone ("You asked for the phone, you got the phone. You want the battery too..? Here you are.")
    3) When asked for the password/pin advise whoever is asking that you didn't bother remember it, but you have it at home. I doubt that the school has a right to search your home or demand things from it.
    4) ...?
    5) Profit!
  • by Jafar00 (673457) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:32AM (#15682362) Homepage
    Of course they are right to search these phones. You never know where the terrorists are hiding. These evil students could make one sms message and bam! A building falls down for no good reason. ;)
  • by Loconut1389 (455297) * on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:27AM (#15682480)
    http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/home.asp?mode=so&ot=5 &o=636&so=649-6 [mass.edu]

    Michael J Welch, Principal
    Mailing Address: 115 A Street
    Framingham, MA 01701-4195
    Phone: (508) 620-4963
    FAX: (508) 877-6603
    E-mail: mwelch1@framingham.k12.ma.us

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @08:00AM (#15682542) Homepage
    The message we're sending to young people is the ends justify the means. Just like wiretapping millions of Americans justified by the war on terror. There is no bottom to either slope.

    Guess I'm a little surprised how little value freedom has in America these days.

  • DMCA (Score:4, Funny)

    by a_greer2005 (863926) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:33AM (#15682786)
    Put a lock code on your phone, and also put a memo on it; if the school confiscates it and reads the memo, they have bypassed a security mesure to illegaly obtain access to your copywrited work.

    sue them

  • by Revolver4ever (860659) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:36AM (#15682792)

    I went to Brooklyn Technical High School in New York and it was PLAGUED with scandals. Sexual abuse, underage sex, corrupt principal, teachers stalking kids, etc. You can read about our principal here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooklyn_Technical_Hi gh_School [wikipedia.org]. Just scroll to the bottom for "Lee McCaskill controversy".

    Now I'm all for schools trying to keep drugs and weapons out of schools. But when the school administration itself is playing dirty, who can you trust? What if a pervert of a teacher accuses a girl of selling drugs and looks at her cell phone?

    If a school wants cell phone access for safety, then students (or at least the PTA) should have the same rights. I want to know that my principal is not spending school money to build a house. I want to know that my math teacher is not buying underage kid porn somewhere. I want to know that my dean is not in anger management classes. And so on. Seems extreme and strange for us to have this information right? Well that's the same way students feel when you take their cell phones and look through them.

  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:52AM (#15682842) Homepage
    I'm not a law-talking guy, so I don't know about the legality of what they are doing. However, let's look at their justifications for doing it:

    The policy, administrators say, is to improve security and stop the sale of drugs and stolen goods,
    Therefore, it seems the question is, are violence and drugs a serious problem at that school? Maybe this school is different, or maybe things have changed in the last couple years, however, don't statistics show that teen drug use and school violence have both been going down? If that is the case, then their justifications are not valid and the administrators are either paranoid or lying.

    It seems that, as in most cases where law is involved, looking at the validity of the justifications is easier and simpler than looking at the legality. It would take a judge to determine the legality of their actions, but anyone can look into things and see if violence and drugs are a serious problem at the school.

    Proving actions of the school are illegal: expensive.
    Proving school administrators are lying: priceless.
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:25AM (#15683220)
    requiring the usual unlock code to view contacts, etc.

    If you enter the correct code, you get an "Invalid Code" message and get to view the real contact info.

    Entering the wrong code gets you a "Correct Code" message and a blank contact list. Unless you retry within 60 sec, all of the data in the phone's NVRAM automatically gets fragged and overwritten with contacts named "F. U. Pig" and "A. Narchy".

    -b.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @04:11PM (#15684338) Homepage Journal
    I used to laugh at the idea of home schooling (given stereotypes you see in movies) but given the direction public schools have taken AND the fact that I have friends who have home schooled their children and their kids are very bright and have been accepted into GOOD colleges, I think that home schooling is the way to go nowadays. Public schools spend far too much time babysitting the students, focusing on "self esteem" and political agendas, and too little time on academics.

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