Boca Ration High School Under Fire for ‘Unconstitutional’ Cellphone Searches

07/26/2011 // WPB, FL, USA // Personal Injury Lawyers News // Nicole Howley

Boca Raton, FL — One south Florida high school is under fire by a civil-rights group over the school’s practice of searching confiscated student cellphones and punishing those who don’t provide access to their text messages or other content on the device, reported the Palm Beach Post.

In-school suspensions are given to students who refuse to provide passcodes to their phones so that administrators can access its information, much like how passwords are needed to access computers and email accounts.

The National Youth Rights Association of Washington, D.C. sent a letter to Boca Raton High School’s Principal Geoff McKee, which calls its cellphone policies “unconstitutional.”

The letter asserts that by searching student’s cellphones it “infringes upon the fundamental freedom of its students and run counter to the holding of the Supreme Court and dictates of the Florida Legislature.” But the complaint also recognized the school’s right to seize student cellphones if they proved to be “disruptive and distracting to learning.”

In addition, the letter says the searches shouldn’t take place after the student has surrendered their phone, and students should not be presumed guilty of any wrongdoing.

“Given that there exist no reasonable grounds to suspect any further violations of school rules or of the law, any search of the actual contents of the phone certainly would not be reasonably related to the objective of the seizure — which is to prevent disruptive conduct,” Jeffrey Nadel, president of the National Youth Rights Association wrote.

But the high school says they just want to make sure students are not taking pictures of test sheets or making harassing text messages.

Mckee stated that although he has not seen the letter, he will give it consideration.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Florida civil rights lawyers.

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