Boca students claim teacher snooped through cell phone - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Boca students claim teacher snooped through cell phone

BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) - Students are allowed to bring their cell phones to school. They're just not allowed to have them on. If a teachers finds that a cell phone is causing a distraction, they can confiscate it. But students say some teachers are going way beyond that.

They're college students now, but Brittany Van Wagner and Amanda Efron say, the worst lesson they ever got at Boca Raton High School was a lesson in humiliation. "She forced me into giving my passcode," said Efron.

"They went through all of my text messages, all of my personal pictures, all my videos. They went through everything right in front of me," said Van Wagner.

The National Youth Rights Movement got wind, and fired off a letter to the principal demanding a passage in the school handbook that reads students are responsible for the content in their phones be stricken.

They don't question a school's right to confiscate phones when they're distracting students, but say Boca High's policy leaves the door open to violations of the fourth amendment's protection of unreasonable searches.

"Even when protecting children as the object, the constitutional limits on government must be upheld," said Jeffrey Nadel of the Youth Rights Association.

FOX 29's legal analyst Michelle Suskauer agrees, and puts it this way: searches of a student's locker, OK, because that's school property.

But searching a cell phone? You're going to need a warrant for that. "I think that the school is going to have a very hard time defending that policy," said Suskauer.

Nadel says even beyond the law, even beyond the humiliation that Amanda and Brittany felt, the school has a responsibility to set an example. "If we infringe upon young people's rights in school, they will not defend those rights as adults," said Nadel.

The district says they weren't aware of Boca High's policy, but that they have already been reviewing the district's cell phone policy.

The chair of the school board says this school is totally out of line and that the board may have to take this up as well. "Any search of a student's phone should be done by the police and after reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed is established," said chair Frank Barbieri.

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