Lee County schools want to look through student’s phone without warrant

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

What if someone took your kid’s or your phone and looked through it without a warrant? The Lee County School District wants to do that, intending to create a safe school environment.

And there’s no doubt parents want to feel their kids are safe when they go to school, but moms and dads WINK News spoke with also don’t want their kid’s privacy violated.

“I can see where they would want to look through it. My only fear would be the information in the phone. There’s private things for families,” Judith Donlan, a parent to a Lee County student, said.

Lee County School District. CREDIT: WINK News

“You can’t give up freedoms for security,” Kevin Jones, a parent to a Lee County student, said.

In the district’s draft of a new student code of conduct, it says in part that school personnel may conduct a search of a student, a student’s possessions, a student’s locker, or any other storage area on school property… Including a cell phone and other electronic devices without a warrant when school personnel has a reasonable suspicion that illegal, prohibited, harmful items or substances or stolen property may be concealed.

“It doesn’t really outline who will be making the determination of reasonable suspicion,” attorney Scot Goldberg said.

While students don’t enjoy the same privacy rights as adults, Goldberg told WINK News the rule, as it’s written, is too broad and might not stand up if challenged.

“I think it has to be a little better thought out. And I think that they should take some input from teachers, parents, and the students,” Goldberg said.

And if you ask parents, most that WINK News spoke with are not willing to let you search their child’s phone without having permission first.

“Some of our things are private. You know, we don’t want all that information out there,” Donlan said.

“Parents got to be involved,” Jones said.

The school board plans to talk about the draft of its new student code of conduct at its meeting on Wednesday. Something important to note is when students and parents sign the code of conduct at the start of every school year, the district sees that as everyone has read and understands what’s in it.

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