Oct 232009
 
 October 23, 2009  Breaches, Court, U.S., Youth & Schools

Eric Been reports:

Owensboro High School violated the Constitution by confiscating a student’s cell phone after it slipped from his pocket during class, and expelling him because of the text messages that school officials read on it, the student’s family claims in Federal Court.

The student, identified only as G.C., says his teacher confiscated his phone “pursuant to school policy,” on Sept. 2. The teacher, the principal and two assistant principals then performed a “warrantless and illegal search” by reading the text messages on the phone, the family says.

The family says G.C. was expelled “as a result of the warrantless and illegal search.”

Read more on Courthouse News.

Related: Lawsuit: G.C. III v. Owensboro Public Schools (pdf)

According to the district’s policies:

Student Search & Seizure

Although students have the right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, school officials have the right, under the law, to search students or their property when there is a reasonable suspicion they have something that violates school rules or endangers others.

Searches may include the student, his/her locker, desk, automobile, cell phone or other personal belongings. The Police Detection Canine Team may conduct random and unannounced searches of general school areas, including school lockers and parking lots.

A school official having reasonable suspicion that the student is in possession of a weapon may use a hand-held metal detector.

[…]

Possession of Telecommunication Devices Prohibited

Under state law (KRS 158.165), a student in the Owensboro Public School District may not activate a telecommunications device on school property or while at a school-related activity or school sponsored activity during the regular school hours unless he/she is acting in the capacity of a volunteer fire fighter or emergency medical service worker.

“Telecommunication devices” refers to devices that emit an audible signal, vibrates, displays a message, or otherwise summons or delivers a communication to the processor, including, but not limited to, a paging device and a cellular telephone. This offense will be treated as “refusal to follow directives” under the Code of Acceptable Behavior and Discipline.

Reference KRS 158.165

Consequences for Violation of the Policy

1st Offense – The school administrator will confiscate the telecommunication device. A required parent conference must take place before the telecommunication device is returned.

2nd Offense – Same as 1st offense with the option of in-house suspension for 4 days. The student loses the privilege to carry a device for the remainder of the year.

3rd Offense — Same as 2nd offense with the option of in-house suspension for 7 days.

4th Offense or more – Forfeit telecommunication device and suspend to a hearing with the DPP.
Disciplinary options:

  • Long-term alternative placement
  • Beyond control charges filed

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