General Question

ishotthesheriff's avatar

Is this legal?

Asked by ishotthesheriff (1555points) April 16th, 2008

Is it legal for a school to hold private property like this?

“If a cell phone is confiscated by an administrator or teacher, parents will be required to pick up the phone. If this occurs a second time, the phone will not be returned to the student until the end of the semester.”

I’m also pretty certain this “rule” is not in writing, but only recently instated. Yes, cell phones are supposed to be out of sight during school hours, but none of the above is listed in any rules or guidelines.

So is it illegal for the school to take someones cell phone like this? I’d think it’s stealing, they’re not the police. Why does everyone think just because you’re in a school means you lose constitutional rights?

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16 Answers

ppcakes's avatar

if its catholic school they can, or a private school…

peedub's avatar

If it’s not it writing, I would think not, whether the school is private or public. However, taking it for a day or so is sort of like a warning.
If the student does it again, they have at least been shown the consequences.
I personally think it’s petty, but I’m sure there is a fair share of cell phone misuse in schools today.

I think my high school had the same policy. I remember going to the dean’s office and seeing ‘the drawer.’ It was filled with pagers, wallet chains, and mini-bongs.

ishotthesheriff's avatar

haha yeah, it is definitely understandable that phones shouldn’t be out. But. . . I have a problem with a school keeping the phone until the end of a semester, however long it may be.

robmandu's avatar

I’m no lawyer… but it seems to me if they can confiscate your property for an hour, they have the ability to keep it for a day, a week, whatever.

School is a privilege, not a right. If an item is deemed disruptive to the education process, they can take it. Of course, such judgment calls are open to debate, often rightly so.

Something like a phone, which costs not-an-insignificant amount of money (often into perpetuity) and is considered by many to be useful for personal safety, would, I like to think, be open to negotiation between the parents and school administrators.

This confiscation process might be used as a mechanism to get the parents more engaged by forcing their involvement. It’s not really the school’s primary function to discipline, but to educate.

peedub's avatar

I know, a parent should be able to demand it back.
It is better than getting expelled, though.

That’s so extreme, why did I bring it up?

ppcakes's avatar

@peedub, especially if there still paying for it while its stuck in that drawer.

TheDeadWake's avatar

Yeah, the keeping it till the end of semester thing is rather ridiculous. I’ve been on the opposite end though during my student teaching. It doesn’t feel great taking it away, but if you don’t you lose the authority that your students perceive you as having. I personally think in your case that on the second incident the student should get some form of detention, but that’s just me.

TheCouncil's avatar

I would believe this brings in property law. For example as a minor you do not actually own any property. It is technically the custodial parents property. They are confiscating the property to return it to the legal owner ( this case the custodial parent) I think the legal limit would be crossed if they refused to return the property to the parent. They could continue to punish the minor for creating a disturbance of the enviorment if the parent keeps returning the phone to the control of the minor.

ishotthesheriff's avatar

not all students are minors . . . what about legal adults? they legally own the phone, especially if they purchased it.

bulbatron9's avatar

A similar event happened to me in the fifth grade. I brought my Game Boy to school, and the teacher “put it” in the school’ vault until the end of the year. At the end of the school year, my Game Boy was gone, and the school told my mother that they were not responsible for it! BS!

amaryllis's avatar

The Supreme Court has held that students surrender some rights while in public school. For example, free speech can restricted when it is disruptive to the learning environment. Cell phones in class seem like they could pose a serious disruption.

And shouldn’t legal adults be able to follow a simple rule? Old enough to know better = old enough to suffer the consequences.

ishotthesheriff's avatar

what you last said is absolutely true, but besides the point. We’re talking if the “adult” is stupid enough to have it taken up twice.

amaryllis's avatar

Well, sure that was just my two cents, but in answer to your question about why people act like you lose constitutional rights, it’s because you do. Cases include Vernonia v. Acton, New Jersey v. TLO, Pottowattomie v. Earls, to name a few. In Tinker v. Des Moines student rights to expression were upheld, but with limits.

TheCouncil's avatar

I was speaking of minor age schools. I am unfamiliar with European or Asian law. I would think in college you would be removed from the class.

babygalll's avatar

I went to a private school and they also had this so called “rule.” I can understand why it is done now with all these features on the phones. Internet access, IMing and texting, but in my days we didn’t have all that and cell phones and were used to call home. Teachers should take it away and simply give it back at the end of the day. In some cases it is so inconvenient for a parent to come pick it up. As for having it taken away until the end of the semester that’s just plain stupid. Parents buy these cell for a reason and it should be up to the parents whether the cell phone should be taken away or not. Anyways, with all these new features…parents should have taken them away already for the kids raking up the bill!

Allie's avatar

I asked my principal about this when I was in junior high. This is the answer I got, but I don’t know if it’s correct/true (or even legit at all) or not:
That while a student is at school, the school is responsible for them just as their parents are when they are at home.
The end. She wouldn’t tell me anything else. Maybe she didn’t know anything else. =\

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