TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Principals Claim Right to Search Cell Phones

Re: Principals Claim Right to Search Cell Phones
20 Jul 2006 08:25:48 -0700

Scott Dorsey wrote:

> I would tend to agree, but sadly children don't seem to have such
> privacy rights. How many times did you see kids passing notes in
> class, who were required to give those notes up to the teacher? How
> many times did teachers demand to look inside your notebook in school?
> This is just an extension of the same thing.

No, I see it as something very different. When a teacher takes a note
being passed around the room, it is in response to active behavior
violation. Reading the note is mostly to embarass the kids doing it
and get them to stop.

Reading a notebook while in class is to ensure the student is working
on the assignment properly and not day dreaming or drowning. Again,
the situation does this in response to behavior, such as the kid
staring out the window or at the ceiling. When a teacher does check a
notebook, it's the current subject, the teacher doesn't wade through
subjects of other teachers.

The teachers' response are specific the issue at hand. The teacher's
don't use passing a note in class as an excuse for a body pat down for

The new situation is where the kids aren't in the classroom and haven't
engaged in any bad behavior; they're just walking in the front door.
They may have happened to be near an undesirable student.

As to the key issue here, my high school had pay phones which kids
used. I never heard of any school listening in to pay phone calls,
recording who made them and to what number. The school could care

They have no business doing likewise with cellphones except in
extremely grave circumstances with a court order. I see no reason
they should have access to a student's cell phone for its records.

>> This kind of power leads to "thought crimes". A kid may have done
>> nothing wrong, but doodling or writings may get him charged with
>> numerous criminal offenses.

> That's been happening since long before I was a kid. Why should we
> expect technology to change that?

Except in very extreme rare cases, schools did not bother reading
personal entries in notebooks, track a student's associations or
telephone calls. My school would not check lockers except in extreme
cases. Everybody doodles and some doodling can be pretty bizzare. It
didn't call for confiscation.

Indeed, in my day the school literary magazine published some bizarre
writings at times; and these were things voluntarily submitted.

In some classes (like science labs) our notebook was explicitly stated
to be part of the class and would be inspected and turned in. The
main issue for us was to buy a separate notebook just for that class
so we wouldn't lose our history notes. We also knew to keep the
notebook in the prescribed format and perhaps a little neater than
notes we took strictly for ourselves.

In elementary school notebooks were subject to inspection (for
neatness, mostly) and we knew that. But in high school and beyond,
unless specifically stated, our notebooks were our own private

Back in my day schools would threaten kids with bad stuff going on
their "Permanent Record". In reality that record was buried in a
closet never to be seen again. No more.

With cheap powerful computers the incidents, writing reviews, searches
truly become part of one's permanent record, accessible beyond school
years, whether legally or not. They could come back to haunt someone
applying for a job or a mortgage or college, or add suspicion in a
criminal investigation.

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