High school reserves right to search cellphones

September 15, 2006 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

Framingham High School, in Framingham, Massachusetts, is famous for a number of things. Now they can add another first to their list: the principal has decided that he has the right to search students’ cell phones if he thinks they may have drugs or stolen goods. Critics, including the students, say it is an invasion of privacy. At least one student feels that administrators are making the school out to be more problematic than it actually is.

Administrators, on the other hand, say they need the policy to improve security at the school and stop illegal activity. According to federal law, schools can conduct searches if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that a student has contraband. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, “School officials need only have ‘reasonable suspicion‘ that a particular search will reveal evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school.”

Personally, I’m not sure data held in a cell phone would be “evidence” — there could be plausible explanations for just about anything and, once upon a time, people in this country were considered innocent until proven guilty. At the very least “I’m writing a novel about a drug dealer — those are notes and excerpts” should result in reasonable doubt. I know that if I were a student at the school, I would certainly encourage my classmates to join me in putting “incriminating evidence” in their cellphones just to make the policy irrelevant.

You have to remember, though, I’m a troublemaker by nature. What do you think? Is this a reasonable policy for a high school in this day and age, or is the school really going way to far?

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Entry filed under: Privacy, Security, VoIP security.

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