Aug 032010
 August 3, 2010  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, Youth & Schools

Duarte Geraldino reports on a case in Irving, Texas where a family is suing the school district for searching their teenage daughter’s cell phone for text messages.

The incident occurred when school officials:

got wind of a potentially threatening situation at the school involving a gun and keyed cars. They believed Madelyn was somehow involved and had evidence on her phone.

The student seems to have consented to the search but claims intimidation:

“I knew they could not do it but I was kind of scared to ask for it back because you know I was like ‘there were three principals and a police officer,” she said.

What’s raising some eyebrows on this one is the father’s motivation in filing a suit, as it does not come across as just some solely noble attempt to protect constitutional rights.

The Beaird family wants everyone involved in the search to be disciplined and fired, including the school administrator and resource officer. They are also demanding $7.5 M in damages.

Where did that figure come from?

“I remember back when hot coffee was spilled in the McDonald’s law suit. They were awarded $4.5 M. I said you know, I guess a constitutional right is worth at least $4 M today,” said Madelyn’s father. He went on to explain “It is worth at least a cup of coffee.”

Read more on 33 News.

If you have children, this might be a good case to discuss at your family’s dinner table tonight as it gives you an opportunity to teach your children their rights in school. The ACLU used to publish a booklet for students about their rights, but I don’t see any such current publication on their web site. That’s a shame, as it would be nice to have something to give kids and teens that explains their First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights in schools. If anyone knows of a good resource like that, perhaps you could drop me a note or post a comment.

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