The Different Rights of Students in Public and Private Schools
Hello, my name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m a Tulsa father’s rights attorney here with Dads.Law where fathers are not disposable and we’re here on location right in front of the Arkansas River and the PSO power plant. I’m here with my daughter and my dog and they’re here just to remind us all why we exist here at Dads.Law. It’s just family. Family is important and your kids are important and they’re important to us.
Guys, last time I talked a little bit about search and seizure law as it applies to public schools and I do want to be clear with these videos that this is public schools. Private schools are not necessarily subject to constitutional law in the same way as public schools. So these discussions are largely focused on the issue of the public school system. Since the majority of the kids out there are attending public school, this probably applies to you.
Can a School Search Your Child’s Device Without Probable Cause?
So what about devices? If the school wants to search your child’s device like a cell phone, a tablet, something like that, can they compel the child to unlock the device with less than probable cause for disciplinary purposes? The short answer is probably not and the reason is the rationale behind the lower standard for disciplinary searches has to do with items that would create an immediate order or security threat and it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to have something on a handheld device that would constitute such a threat.
Certainly there could be contraband on the device and there was a case recently out of the Northeast and the appellate circuits that had to do with a minor that was accused of sexting and for those of you that don’t know what the slang term means, it’s basically sending explicit photos using a messaging app or using the text messaging features of your phone and when minors do this, it’s actually quite illegal because it could be considered and it meets the literal legal definition of manufacturing and or procuring child pornography if it’s a minor.
Well, this individual was a minor and the individual who sent him the photo was also a minor so you can sort of see the problem there and the school took the position that under existing law, they could force this child to unlock and reveal the contents of his phone and they threatened him until he did it at which point in time he was prosecuted for possession of child pornography. Well, the appellate court took the position that no, this was a probable cause situation because even if he had the explicit images on his phone, it was neither a security threat nor a order threat to the school.
Protecting Your Child’s Privacy
So that’s and also this was a clearly a law enforcement search because they weren’t looking for these, let’s be honest, they weren’t looking for these photos because they wanted to discipline him internally. They believed he was involved in a felony so it’s a criminal investigation and it should be probable cause but it’s an interesting discussion because these devices contain a lot of information that is very, of a very sensitive nature and we sort of take it for granted and if you let your child take a phone to school with them and a lot of parents do, especially high schoolers, then you are, you know, you don’t necessarily want the school pawing through the contents of their phone without a good reason because there’s no telling what could be on that device and it’ll be information that’s not only sensitive to the child but it’s also sensitive to you.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
So it’s good to know that at least one of the circuit courts is upholding the idea that no really you do need probable cause to toss a device and guys if you have any questions about that or if your child has been asked to unlock their device and it’s subject to some kind of an in-school search, I would encourage you, you need a good lawyer and you need a good lawyer now and one place you can find a good lawyer is at Dads.Law where fathers are not disposable.