IT Infrastructure

Va. Students’ Phones, Laptops Can Be Searched

By The Associated Press — February 04, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Virginia students’ cellphones and laptops can be seized and searched by public school officials if violations are suspected, according to state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

But school officials must have reasonable grounds to suspect that a student has violated school rules or the law, Cuccinelli wrote in an official advisory opinion in November.

“The supervision and operation of schools present ‘special needs’ beyond normal law enforcement and, therefore, a different framework is justified,” Cuccinelli wrote, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a New Jersey case.

He also said that any sexually explicit material involving a minor discovered during such searches should be shared only with law enforcement. Such material should not be shared with other school personnel.

State Delegate Rob Bell, a Republican, requested the opinion after high school and middle school principals in Albemarle County voiced concerns about cyberbullying.

“They inquired what exactly their legal authority is,” Bell told The Daily Progress newspaper of Charlottesville, Va. “They all said [cyberbullying] is an increasing problem.”

Bell said principals want to intervene if they can, but they do not want to violate anyone’s civil rights or break the law.

John W. Whitehead, the founder of a civil liberties group, the Rutherford Institute, criticized Cuccinelli’s opinion, saying it could lead to violations of students’ civil rights.

“This is bad, bad thinking,” Whitehead told the newspaper. “I’m appalled at this kind of stuff. It’s just appalling that people think like this in a country where we’re supposed to be teaching kids to value freedom and civil rights.”

Whitehead said educators do not have the expertise to judge whether they have probable cause to conduct a search.

“They don’t know what reasonable suspicion is,” he said. “They have one job—teaching students. They’re not law enforcement.”

“This teaches a really bad political science lesson, and that’s that the government can do whatever it wants with you,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the February 09, 2011 edition of Digital Directions as Va. Students’ Phones, Laptops Can Be Searched

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure Internet on School Buses: FCC Eyes E-Rate Change to Expand Access
FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal that would allow the use of federal E-rate funding for Wi-Fi in school buses.
2 min read
A Brownsville Independent School District bus acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot for students needing to connect online for distance learning at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year in the Texas school system.
A Brownsville Independent School District bus acts as a WI-FI hotspot for students needing to connect online for distance learning on the first day of class Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in the parking lot of the Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center in Brownsville, Texas. The bus is one of 20 hotspots throughout the city to help students have access to their online classes as part of the remote start to the school year due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP
IT Infrastructure Stopping Cyberattacks Is Top Priority for Ed-Tech Leaders. But Many Underestimate the Risk
Most K-12 district tech leaders rate common cybersecurity threats as just low or medium risk, survey shows.
4 min read
Images shows a symbolic lock on a technical background.
iStock/Getty
IT Infrastructure Spotlight Spotlight on Infrastructure Modernization
This Spotlight will help you grasp the reality of school infrastructure, parent privacy concerns, watchdog recommendations and more.
IT Infrastructure The Infrastructure Bill Includes Billions for Broadband. What It Would Mean for Students
Students who struggle to access the internet at home may get some relief through $65 billion in funding for broadband, approved by Congress in the new infrastructure bill.
2 min read
Chromebooks, to be loaned to students in the Elk Grove Unified School District, await distribution at Monterey Trail High School in Elk Grove, Calif., on April 2, 2020.
Even as school-issued devices such as Chromebooks, shown above, have proliferated in the pandemic, many students still lack internet access at home, putting them at a disadvantage for completing homework assignments.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP