Johanna Miller, the advocacy director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, writes:
A student’s cell phone isn’t a wallet or hairbrush. Its contents can be as personal as a diary.
In a Texas school district, for example, a teacher seized a student’s phone and searched her text-message history, discovering a private nude photograph she had sent to a friend. The teacher then shared the phone with the school district police officer.
And to make matters worse, the student got in trouble — she was suspended for 30 days because of “incorrigible behavior.”
In New York City, it’s a relief that the Michael Bloomberg-era ban on cell phones in city schools is over. For nearly a decade, the ban imposed needless burdens on kids and parents and served as an unnecessary flashpoint for confrontation between students and school staff.
But now that Mayor de Blasio is finally allowing city schools to catch up to the reality of the digital age, horror stories like the one in Texas show privacy protections for students must catch up in tandem.
Read more on the NY Daily News. Miller outlines some good suggests for setting standards and policies. Significantly, she rightly points out that constitutional rights do not vary from school to school and it should not be up to individual schools to decide under what conditions they can search a student’s cellphone.