• Do students have a right to cell phone privacy while at school?

    Date: 10.17.07 | by Judge Tom.

    In May, 2007 a school security officer at Monarch High School in Colorado saw a 16-year-old sophomore smoking in the school parking lot. He took the student to the assistant principal’s office where his cell phone was taken. His text messages were read and some were transcribed and put into his student file. About a dozen other students had their cell phones confiscated and messages transcribed. In at least one case, the school official posed as the student and sent messages from the phone.

    Related post: 7 things to know about cell phones at school

    The students and their parents challenged the actions of the school. They claimed that without any suspicion of criminal activity the students’ right to cell phone privacy at school was violated. They further claimed that seizing the cell phones was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

    Photo by Kristal O’Neal

     The case was settled in April, 2008. The Boulder Valley School District agreed to limit their searches of text messages and get permission from the student or a parent before checking any messages. If a school administrator believes the text messages pose an imminent threat to public safety, they can check them without permission.

    This is a scenario that has yet to reach the courts. However due to the widespread use of cell phones on and off campus, questions regarding a student’s privacy rights will remain in the forefront of education issues. Find out more about your rights concerning search and seizure at school.

    Read about cell phone and text privacy issues and what Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and Monarch High School have in common.

    Search of Cell Phone by the Police Incident to Arrest

    In September, 2010, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that a cell phone found in a car following the arrest of the driver for driving on a suspended license could be searched for evidence. Police are authorized to inventory a car when it’s going to be impounded or before turning it over to a third party. On the phone they found evidence of drug transactions that were allowed in court as circumstantial evidence of conspiracy to sell drugs.  (State of Arizona v. Rodolfo Chavez)

    Just for Fun – Texting Championships

    On the lighter side, in April, 2007, 13-year-old Morgan Pozgar won the LG National Texting Championship in New York City by texting a 151-character phrase beginning with “supercalifragilisticexpialidoucious?” in 42 seconds. First place included a $25,000.00 prize.  In July, 2008, the winner was 20-year-old Nathan Schwartz of Ohio who took home the grand prize of $50,000. The 2009 winner of the competition was 15-year-old Kate Moore from Des Moines, Iowa. She also reeived $50,000 and a new LG phone.

     In January, 2010, a team from South Korea won the LG Mobile World Cup held in New York City. 17-year-old Bae Yeong-ho and 18-year-old Ha Mok-min went thumb to thumb against competitors from a dozen countries, and took home the $100,000 prize. The finalists were chosen from 200,000 who participated in a global text-off that started in May, 2009. Second place went to the U.S. team of 16-year-old Kate Moore of Iowa, the 2009 U.S. Texting Champion, and 14-year-old Morgan Dynda of Georgia. They shared a $20,000 prize.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    109 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • jocelyn
      Sat, 03 Oct 2009 at 03:20

      if i get my phone taken away at school for texting are they allowed to go threw my phone?

      do i have the right to not give them my phone if they ask for it?

      because i have gotten my cell phone taken away for txting and they went threw my phone and looked at all my contacts my pictures watched my videos and read my messages are they allowed to do that stuff?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      That’s a great question that many students, parents and teachers are wondering about. Most schools have policies concerning the use of cell phones on campus and during class. If you violate the rules, school officials can take your cell phone and hold onto it until the end of the day. If school officials believe your cell phone contains text messages that present an imminent threat to public safety, they can can check the messages without permission. Otherwise, they typically need permission from you or your parents to go through your phone.

    • ryan charles
      Fri, 30 Oct 2009 at 04:01

      can they search my phone if it is taken away?
      Judge Tom’s response;
      That’s a good question, Ryan. It’s one being asked around the country these days. Each state deals with this issue following it’s own laws and the rules/policies of the school district. Generally, if there’s a reasonable suspicion that you’ve broken or are about to break a school rule or the law, they may search your phone. Depending on the circumstances, the police may need a search warrant to conduct a search. You might find specific information by Googling “cell phone search” and your state’s name. Good luck.

    • Connie
      Sun, 01 Nov 2009 at 09:16

      Ok in my American History class i brought up this subject on the 4th Amendment and the cell phone issue. Well we read cases from 1985 and stuff. What i would like to kno is that if they said at the begining of school that if they took up your phone that they would turn it off. But now they wont let us turn them off they will take it up and go through it. Is it right for them to do that and do you believe that if the student breaks the rule once that the administrator has the right to go through the phone again.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      This is an area of the law that is fairly new and being debated across the country. The case you mention is probably “T.L.O. v. New Jersey,” a search and seizure case that allows administrators to conduct searches at school under certain circumstances. Now, school districts are creating policies about cell phones when taken from students. Some have agreed to read student’s messages only when there is a reasonable suspicion that a rule or law has been or will be broken, or in the case of danger or harm to anyone on campus. Check your Code of Conduct or Student Handbook to see if cell phones are mentioned. All the best.

    • MoniB
      Thu, 05 Nov 2009 at 05:12

      My daughter was using someone elses phone at school and was caught texting so they consficated the phone. I was called and told in order for the other student to get the phone back. My daughter gave them the phone but took out the battery so they could not look on the phone. The person who lent her the phone had some private photo’s on it.
      I went to the school and they would not release the phone to me. I was fine with that they shouldn’t it wasn’t mine however they would not release it to the student either until we gave them the battery. They said there was a ring of students steasling phones and they needed to see if the phone was stole before they would release it. When my daughter told then she would give them the battery if that was the oly way to get it back becasue she knows the phone is not stolen but they were not allowed to look at the pictures. The administrator said she would have to look to help confirm the phone was stolen or not. I understand my daughter’s concern for her friend and I feel like looking at photo’s with out the consent of the owner of the phone is not right or text messages, If they need to see if the phone is stolen look at the serial number then. I feel that is private and that the Administrators were crossing a line.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Whether they crossed the line or not depends on the school district’s policy regarding confiscated cell phones and the state laws that may exist on this subject. There are rules regarding search and seizure of mobile phones. This is a developing area of the law – both schools and law enforcement are seeing more of these situations.

    • Dana Richter
      Tue, 17 Nov 2009 at 02:57

      okay i get the fact that some schools look throught the phone txting but seriously why would they go through your personal pictures and videos?????
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Hopefully, only for evidence of criminal activity if they initially have reasonable suspicion of such, or that a school rule has been violated.

    • Ceiran Crihfield
      Thu, 17 Dec 2009 at 03:53

      In legal terms do the schools have the authority to forcibly take your phone away for a year from you? It sounds like stealing to me.
      Dear Ceiran: School districts around the country are wrestling with how to deal with the issue of cell phones on campus. What they can and can’t do with confiscated phones is determined by individual district rules and regulations. Up to this point there have been few court cases on the subject and most have been settled by agreement between the parties. For example, the Boulder, Colorado School District has agreed not to read any messages on confiscated phones unless they have reason to believe that a crime has or will be committed, or a school rule broken. How long a school may keep a phone is up to the individual school and district policy. A year seems a bit harsh, but the circumstances have to be considered and whether students have notice of the policy. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Emily
      Tue, 22 Dec 2009 at 07:05

      I got my phone take away during school today for texting. My principal told me to pick it up in the office at the end of the day. About 10 minutes later she comes back and motions for my friend to go out of the classroom. When my friend came back, she had gotten her phone taken away also. The only way my principal would have known that my friend and I were texting is if she read my messages. Is she allowed to do that? I know that they have a right to do that without permission if there is suspicion that i am doing something illegal, and they had no reason to think that. I beleive that students have a right to their privacy, and if a phone is confiscated, they should be allowed to turn it off before giving it to administrators.
      Dear Emily: You’re right about needing suspicion about breaking a rule at school or a law before searching your phone. That’s the latest development in the law in some states. You’ll have to look at both your school district’s policy regarding confiscation of phones and reading messages, as well as local law about searches and students. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jack
      Mon, 11 Jan 2010 at 06:29

      I had my phone taken away during class, My phone was in my back pocket and when i sat down it turned on. the teacher took it and according to school handbook I would be given the device back at the end of the school day. I proceeded to my school office and was told the principle had taken it and he was in a meeting so I wouldn’t be able to receive it till the next day(Tomorrow) Is that legal?
      Dear Jack: You can’t expect the principal or any other school official to be waiting for you to come for your phone. Because you couldn’t pick it up the same day doesn’t mean a law or district policy has been broken. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jack
      Mon, 11 Jan 2010 at 07:55

      I’m sorry but i dont understand your answer. I came after school to pick it up, right after school in fact, he had left a while before.
      Dear Jack: We’re recomending that you be patient and pick it up tomorrow. Principals and other school officials have full days with a lot of responsibility. They can’t always interrupt their schedules to attend to every incident on campus.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • April-Ann
      Mon, 18 Jan 2010 at 03:08

      um i didnt get my phone taken cuz’ of texting. these boys saw my friend pick up a dollar. Just a DOLLAR. and they ran to the girl and tell her to give it back. and she said no. so they saw my phone which they mistaken for hers and their u go GONE. the senior mistress took it. She looked at all my photos. and held it against. please PLEASE how do i get my phone back???
      Dear April-Ann: We suggest you advise your parents or guardian of this incident so they can discuss it with the school. Check the school’s student handbook or code of conduct to see if there is a policy about cell phones on campus. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Daniel Gov
      Sun, 24 Jan 2010 at 08:48

      My phone was taken a week and a half after I got it, working at my dad’s factory and I cannot get it back until the end of the school year (July). It is a $300 dollar phone, and I had it taken away once before. Nowhere in the school handbook which I signed said that phones were allowed to be taken for the whole year. The definition of stealing is taking something from the owner without the rightful permission of the owner. I am said owner, and the vice principal took it from me for the year without permission. Is this legal?
      Dear Daniel: Whether it’s legal or not depends on the specific laws in your state regarding school authority and discipline measures. You have to look to the school’s policies and school district rules. Maybe you and your parents should ask to meet with school officials to discuss this and come to a resolution. Since this was the second time you had your phone taken, this could be a valid consequence under the rules of the school. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Fri, 29 Jan 2010 at 04:34

      Here is my question: our school has a policy on cell phone use. Cell phones are allowed in school, but they must be turned off. If you are caught texting during school hours the first time, it will be confiscated and you can get it back at the end of the day; the second time, if your parent picks it up; the third time, you get it back at the end of the year.
      My question is: according to the 5th amendment, a person cannot be deprived of their property “without the due process of law”. The constitution is the supreme law of the land, and therefore must be above the school rules.
      Since the school rule, by taking the cell phone for the remainder of the school year, is violating the due process of law, it therefore must mean that the school rule is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
      Is this argument valid? What would you say to it?
      Dear Jamie: “Due process” means the right to notice in advance and the right to be heard. In this case the school has already put you on notice by including in the code of conduct the rules regarding cell phones at school. You know the consequences if the rule is violated. The policy also advises you of the process to follow if you disagree with the action taken by the school – such as requesting a meeting with the principal, school board or School District representative. This is your right to be heard. Consequently, “due process” has been followed. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Vanessa H.
      Mon, 01 Feb 2010 at 06:44

      Hello, first of all I want to say, thank you for hosting this site and taking the time to answer teens questions. I think this is an excellent resource for students. I’m having a problem with my daughter’s school and her cell phone. The district policy is that if students are caught with their cell phones the first time it is confiscated for 30 days. I think this is a bit harsh because the parent isn’t even called or advised in writing of the situation. The parent still has to pay a month of service for a phone that isn’t being used. I’ve read other schools have a day or two week first offense punishment, but I think a month for a first offense is ridiculous. I was told I should get my daughter a replacement phone. Why should I incur any extra expenses?
      My daughter’s biological father pays for the phone to keep in contact with my daughter and now she can’t speak to him for a month. Isn’t that violating some law?
      I would like to do something to get this policy changed, but I have no idea where to begin. Any information you can provide me with would be greatly appreciated.
      Dear Ms. H.: We’re glad you like our site. The first place to start is with the School District. Write them or request a meeting where you can explain the situation regarding the additional costs and contact with your daughter’s father. These may be issues that weren’t considered when the policy was adopted by the school district. We don’t provide legal interpretations or advice. You could check with a lawyer in your area who is familiar with school law. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • justin
      Tue, 09 Feb 2010 at 04:08

      i was in photography class and i received a text message from a friend.suddenly my teacher stood up and told me to to stop texting people during class and that was when i figured out that he had somehow hacked my phone or something and he was able to see all my text messages on his computer.he then proceeded to show my messages to other students,all without my permission.is this legal?it sounds to me like the digital equivalent of going through my mailbox,which is a federal offense.i would like to know if i have any legal ground to stand on in saying this is a violation of my right to privacy.please respond quickly!
      Dear Justin: This issue of cell phone privacy by students and employees is a new and developing area of the law. In your situation, take a look at your student code of conduct. It may be in the Student Handbook and see if there are policies in place about cell phone use at school and the consequences for violations. Many schools have AUPs which are Acceptable Use Policies covering computer and cell phone usage at school. Discuss this situation with your parents. They may want to request a meeting with the principal, teacher and school board over this incident to see how it can be resolved. There may be another explanation of the teacher’s actions rather than assuming that he “hacked” your phone. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jhon
      Tue, 23 Feb 2010 at 09:15

      i got my phone taken away in school for someone sending me a sexual photo can they keep your phone if they found out who sended the photo of the girl and the principal toke the kids that haded but they deleted the picture ,and they only toke my phone cause i had it and they just sended it to me , and can they keep my phone ?
      Dear Jhon: You have to read your school’s code of conduct and see if there’s a rule regarding cell phones. Schools across America are wrestling with this issue which is a new area of the law. Some schools require the parents to come and pick it up. Others keep it until the end of the day and then return it to the student. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • dawn
      Tue, 02 Mar 2010 at 10:25

      heres a question for u. our school handbook does say that the school can take a phone from a student and read it if it looks like the phone was used to do something against school policy but can the adminstation use to phone to call and text people on the original phones contact list? It seems like that may be going to far doesn’t it if the admin is calling other students from the confiscated phone and texting like they r the actual kid?
      Dear Dawn: You raise a good point. What you’ve described may go too far when in possession of a student’s phone. However, it may also be allowed under certain circumstances such as an ongoing investigation into criminal activity or violation of a school rule. The totality of the circumstances has to betaken into consideration along with the laws of your state.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tyler
      Wed, 03 Mar 2010 at 06:13

      I was in chemistry class and we were doing chemical equations and I did not have a calculator in order to do the presented questions and examples and learn the method correctly, though it was not for a grade it was to learn how to do such equations, therefore I used the calculator on my phone in order to do said questions and follow what the teacher had been saying, I slipped my phone into my pocket before the teacher got around to me and then walked past me then pulled the phone from my pocket, I told him the truth that I was not texting and was using the calculator do the problems on the board, they probably checked my messages to make sure I wasn’t lying but I’m not concerned about that because there was nothing wrong there, I thought my phone was going to be taken for only the rest of the day as I had no prior offenses on cell phones, my school has an ‘off and in locker’ policy on cell phones, and yes I violated this rule the same as everyone else does but I was using it to further my education and to assist in learning as I would’ve never learned the method without it, my phone was taken for the rest of the school year, which is until June 2nd, Is this wrong because I was using my phone to assist in the process of education which is the schools primary purpose and by taking it they are taking away my opportunity for education. I also drive 30 miles a day to school and I need it in case of an emergency, once more,my parents can’t even get it back, Is this wrong and if so, how can I get my phone back?
      Dear Tyler: Unfortunately, you may be stuck with complying with the school’s rule regarding cell phones. Talk to your parents about what happened and see what they can do about this. They may be able to set up a meeting with the principal and/or school board to resolve this. Once you explain the situation to them, as you’ve described above, maybe reasonable minds can reach a resolution before the end of the semester. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tyler
      Wed, 03 Mar 2010 at 09:57

      I had forgotten to mention that my parents met with the principle today as the even happened yesterday and all acts of reasoning was futile and even a proposal to give me detention or a suspension was failed as the principal claims that they must follow the policy on cell phone abuse but how is it abuse or distracting to the learning process to myself or other students when my phone was being used to benefit the learning process, I would understand if I was texting or using my phone in another manner, but for using the calculator function, I understand the need to set examples and follow policy but under such circumstances, is retreiving my phone even possible?
      Dear Tyler: Many schools have a “zero tolerance” policy regarding cell phones on campus or in class, drugs and weapons. You apparently are in a school with such a policy and it’s up to the school to decide how to enforce the policy. Unless you decide to change schools, you’ll have to live with this hard-learned lesson.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Gina
      Thu, 04 Mar 2010 at 09:25

      Hi, Do san diego california high schools have the right to review all student electronic data from confiscated cell phones?

      I got a electronic device policy paper where it states “The administration reserves the right to review all text messages, photo images, video or other electonic data on all confiscated items”

      i believe this is violating the students privacy. What if they have naked pictures of themselfs on their phone? is the school allowed to go through that without a reason? without suspicion of public threat?
      Dear Gina: The law in this area is new and developing. Some schools have a zero tolerance policy regarding cell phones and confiscation may result in a search of the phone if there is reasonable suspicion that a school rule or a law has been broken. You have to look to your local laws and law enforcement policies regarding the legitimacy of any search. You could also consult with a local lawyer about this – one familiar with either school law or criminal laws. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • austin
      Fri, 05 Mar 2010 at 03:45

      why do teachers take away cell phones
      Dear Austin: Many schools have zero tolerance policies regarding weapons, drugs and now cell phones. Read your student handbook for the rules that apply to you. If there is a cell phone policy, it may allow teachers to confiscate phones that are used or go off in class. A second offense may lead to confiscation for a longer period, even up to the end of the school year.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kayla
      Sun, 14 Mar 2010 at 09:29

      My phone was taken by the vice principal for texting in class but i was not caught does that mean they can keep it even if my dad went up there and tried to get it back ???
      Dear Kayla: You’ll have to look at your school’s student handbook for the rules regarding cell phones. Most schools have a policy about cell phones at school and in class. They may be able to confiscate your phone if used in class and the rules vary on how long they can keep it and who must pick it up, you or a parent. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • kendra
      Tue, 16 Mar 2010 at 02:25

      im live in sc and i got my phone taken its the 2nd time but the first time was last semester and the way our school doses it is the take your phone and they give u 3 offences the first one thay give it back the next day and the 2nd time they keep it for 30 days and the 3rd time they keep it for the year and i think but am not sure but i thought thAT THE OFFENCES START FRESH EACH Sumester but i dont know what to do is their any way my parents could go up to the school and get my phone back before 30 days ……………..please help
      Dear Kendra: The best thing to do is to look at your student handbook. The school’s policy regarding cell phones on campus should be stated clearly so all students know what to expect. Tell your parents what happened and they may be able to meet with the principal and resolve this. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • JD
      Fri, 09 Apr 2010 at 04:44

      Today at school, one of my friends got their phone taken away. Before they took it up, he sent a text to a lot of students. While the phone was at the office many of the students replied back, so the office went through the whole list of people who replied back, and took their phone up. Unfortunately I was one of them, but when they got the message they replied saying “i am at the office.” What I want to know is, is it right for them to look through his phone, and is it right for them to text back.
      Dear JD: Every state has its own laws regarding searches during criminal investigations and the Fourth Amendment also applies. Citizens are protected against “unreasonable” searches and seizures. This may also have some bearing on the rules at your school regarding cellphones. Take a look at your Student Handbook for the rules about bringing cellphones to school and the consequences when they go off in class or are used in violation of the rule. Searches may be conducted if a rule or violation of law has been committed or may be committed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Datsun
      Thu, 15 Apr 2010 at 01:50

      i have a smart phone with 14gigabytes of space so i put music on it. during a class where listining to music is permitted i was using my phone instead of my mp3 player which did not have the music content that i wanted at the moment. i dont text or make calls during school hours and generly it is on airplane mode should it have been taken away when communications were disabled.
      Dear Datsun: You’ll have to look at your Student Handbook for the rules regarding cell phone and other electronic devices at school. Most schools have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that when violated allows the school to take action including confiscation of the phone for a period of time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jimi Torres
      Thu, 22 Apr 2010 at 06:15

      I had a problem during class today and i was caught texting. I willingly gave up my phone with no argument or anything cause i know it’s against school rules to have it out (and i quote from the only section of our private high schools handbook that covers rules about cellphones): “Cell phones are to be kept out of site from 7:30AM until the end of school. Students are allowed to use their phones in the lobby of the Main Office.” Today i got a call from my dean saying she found inappropriate things on my phone but i don’t ever remember signing any agreement saying that she can go through my phone. And no where does it say they could do that. Are her actions justifiable or did my rights as a student and American get violated? also i have had no suspicions of illegal or harmful activity. thanks!
      Dear Jimi: Check your Student Handbook again to see if there’s an Acceptable Use Policy regarding electronic devices on campus. Many schools have these now and they spell out consequences for violating the rule. If there’s resonable suspicion that you broke a rule or the law with the phone, they may search it for evidence. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Emilee
      Sat, 24 Apr 2010 at 10:10

      im in 7th grade and my friends mom is studding in criminal justice and what not, but the teacher saw we texting in class and she told me to give me my phone. and my friend stood up and said ” if u lay one finger on her phone, that is not your property and you have no right to take it… she can sew you.” and the teacher said good and i just said wait let me take out my batery because our princible will look through and use your phone without your permishen and he will leave your phone ON so it runs out of batory when you get it back, than my friend told me after class that if they keep your phone over night that it is steeling and u can sew them for that too. and that is what they do. if you get your phone taken away 1 time you get it back the next day at the end of the day. 2 times than its 2 days and you pick it up with a note from your parents, and 3 days you can only get it back it your parents come and pick it up. and if you get it taken away on the week end u get it back on Monday or Tuesday at the end of the day,. please give me a true answer and write me back as soon as posivle!
      thank you very much!!!!
      Dear Emilee: You seem to know the rules at your school regarding cell phones. Most schools have Acceptable Use Policies in place and if you disagree with the taking of your phone discuss it with your parents. They can contact the school and meet with the principal. Such policies are not against the law. They exist in order to maintain an environment where all students can learn without the constant interference of ringing phones and distractions during class. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Keennan
      Wed, 28 Apr 2010 at 05:22

      I go to a school in the St. Clair county school district in Michigan and today my phone was taken away for being suspected of texting. I really wasn’t texting but I handed my phone to my teacher anyway. I recieved a 3 day suspension and 9% off my grade in every class for the marking period and they told me my mom had to come get my phone but my mom has a job and has no way of coming to get my phone. I pay for my cell phone not my mom so why should my mom have to come get my phone? Do I have to give my phone up to a teacher? Do they have the right to keep which is lawfully mine? they tell me its the policy but its unconstitutional. what if there was a policy where it required you as a student to lets say do sexual favors for a teacher everyday. would that be okay just because it is stated in a school policy? If something is unconstitutional then it is unconstitutional right? why should a school policy over power the constitution. If yu want you can research my school policy on cell phones I go to marysville highschool in michigan
      Dear Keennan: It would be better if you read your school’s policy in the Student Handbook. Most schools across the country have policies regarding the use and possession of cell phones on campus. Such policies are not unconstitutional as they are consistent with the school’s mission to educate without interruptions and disruptions. It is not uncommon for the phone to be taken when the policy has been violated, like using it in class. Your Mom can contact the school and make arrangements for its return. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • cesar
      Mon, 10 May 2010 at 04:34

      hey I live in florida and am in the 7th grade and a few months ago i sent a message to my friend during lunch regarding a question about class, later on in a different class she was caught with her phone texting. her phone was searched and all the people that have sent her messages or she sent messages to got their teachers called and their phones taken even if the phones were off,. And one of those people were me. my phone was off though it was still taken for the rest of the year even though i didn’t even have my phone on. this all happened cause my friends phone was search without cause, like i understand that rules are rules and we should be using our phones during class but i think theres a limit that a teacher can do. in the school policy it states phones will be taken if seen but mine wasn’t seen or on.
      Dear Cesar: Explain what happened to your parents. It’s possible that your school district has a policy regarding discipline of students and a procedure to challenge it. It should be outlined in your Student Handbook. A meeting with the principal and/or school board may bring results. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jason
      Tue, 11 May 2010 at 12:35

      If a student signs a consent form at the beginning of the year, consenting to the searches of their phones at school; and later in the year the phone is taken. Can they revoke their consent to search or based on the fact that the school needs to give informed consent is that previously signed consent form valid or enforceable?
      Dear Jason: Ordinarily a consent is valid until it’s revoked. So if you gave written consent, you should also revoke it in writing. However, it may be too late since the phone has already been confiscated and possibly searched. Talk with your parents about this and how to proceed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • david
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 06:59

      so me and my friend were dishing class in the pe field then suddenly school security came running after us we managed to escape but then they caught me they accused me of smoking weed for no reason the guy search me i told him i wasent smoking then he went through my phone pics video and messages then let me go. was he allowed to do that? i live in la ca.
      Dear David: In many states if a school official has reasonable suspicion that you’ve broken the law or a school rule such as possession or sale of drugs, he has the authority to conduct a search of your property [locker, car, desk etc]. Take a look at your Student Handbook for the rules about on-campus searches by school officials. Be careful about what messages you send and pictures you take with your cell phone. They may become evidence that may be used against you if a crime has been committed such as sexting. Good luck.
      [This is information only - notlegal advice].

    • Jeffrey Evans
      Wed, 18 Aug 2010 at 07:38

      Do schools have the right to check the students text messages? http://bit.ly/bg5Cyz #privacy #text

    • Kelly Schwarz
      Mon, 23 Aug 2010 at 11:40

      My daughter was a new student and has been attending this school district for 10 days. On the 10th day of school she had a teacher tell her that she was in a dress code violation (this is a separate matter) and made a rude and derogatory comment to her. In between classes she texted me to ask me to bring up another pair of pants she was upset. The school took her phone away for 5 days and would not release the phone to me. If I demanded the phone back they would have her finish the rest of the punishment on ISS. What gives the school a right to take my phone from my daughter who only tried to contact her parent to help her rectify the situation. Then the school would not even release the phone to me?
      Dear Ms. Schwarz: It is not uncommon for a cell phone at school to be confiscated. Most schools today have what are called AUPs – Acceptable Use Policy. The policy lays out the rules regarding electronic devices on campus and consequences for violating the rules. In your situation you need to read the policy at the school – it should be included in the Student Handbook or students’ Code of Conduct. You may also request a meeting with the principal and/or teacher involved to straighten this out. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • josiah
      Mon, 30 Aug 2010 at 10:11

      Well I’ve been looking into thus subject for some time now, I have read my schools “rights” booklet and i think they don’t allow phones. For most things it says consequences for disobeying but this is very open. If I refuse to give them my phone what could happen? Both my dad and mom said I shouldn’t because it is personal property…. another thing, I have a lock on my phone. Would I be required to unlock it if they supposedly had suspicions? I just want to know theoretically.
      Dear Josiah: You raise some good questions. Your school’s code of conduct or Student Handbook should address this. Look under AUP [Acceptable Use Policy] for a discussion of electronic devices at school. Most schools have a written policy about cell phones and violations of the rules including confiscation for a period of time. If you and your parents have questions, discuss this with the principal for clarification. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • shannon
      Sun, 12 Sep 2010 at 06:22

      my phone was taken away at school and my sister got up from his chair and he got the princabel aka his mum and he said to his mum can we have mobile phones in school but make sure we listen and we do are work and she said yes so she gave the whole class a calcalator phone so it looked like a calcalator but it was a phone so me and my sister can get in touch. thank you for listening shannon.good luck.
      Thank you, Shannon, for your comment.

    • Jeffrey S. Robison
      Thu, 16 Sep 2010 at 07:47

      A teacher search my daughter’s bag and confiscated her phone and refused to give it back at the end of the day. The phone was not on, she was not texting, being disruptive. He just decided he was going to search her bag. She is only 14 and carries her women’s toiletries in the bag. I believe the search was uncalled for and it embarrassed my daughter. Was it legal to search her bag on the “tip” that she simply had a cell phone in her possession? Nothing else was in the bag except books and girl stuff.
      Dear Mr. Robison: Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice to teens or adults. We suggest you read the school’s code of conduct or Student Handbook and see if they have a written Acceptable Use Policy. Most schools in the nation have AUPs that cover cellphones and other electronic devices. You can also talk with the principal about this incident to see if any rules/laws have been violated. If not satisfied with what you learn, you can consult with a local education/school lawyer – one who is familiar with school law and the Fourth Amendment regarding search and seizure. Good luck.
      [This is information noly - not legal advice].

    • Cat
      Mon, 18 Oct 2010 at 08:58

      my phone was taken away during lunch today and its school policy that the teachers much give the phone to the office for a parent to pick it up. however, when my mom went to pick it up the teacher never gave it into the office. she either kept it or lost it, both of which have consiquences and are against school rules for her to do. is this illegal? is she just allowed to take my phone and possibly use it…?
      Dear Cat: Your mom will have to pursue this further. The teacher could have misplaced it or forgot to turn it in to the front office. Wait a day or two and see if it shows up. Otherwise, you can take this up with the teacher and principal. A confiscated cell phone should not be used by a teacher. Check the school’s AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) regarding cell phones to see what’s appropriate once a phone is taken away from a student. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stacey
      Tue, 26 Oct 2010 at 09:37

      At the beginning of school we have to sign a form stating that if cell phones are confiscated that they will be returned at the end of the school year… My daughter no longer goes to that school nor even a part of the school district any longer… The school made sure that they recieved all of their property upon my daughter’s withdrawl, but they refuse to return her cell phone to me..they said it is policy to return it the last day of school…how is this legal since my daughter is not a student there anymore?
      Dear Stacey: According to the laws of your state, school districts set policy and rules that, unless they are discriminatory or unconstitutional, are valid. This school’s cell phone policy is not uncommon across the country. If you signed the statement at the beginning of the school year, you agreed to the policy. Whether your daughter still attends the school doesn’t affect enforcement of the rule. You could speak with the principal or contact the school superintendent to see if they’ll release the phone since she no longer attends the school. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tommie Anaya
      Wed, 03 Nov 2010 at 01:21

      “Due process”, My son was accused of texting, so he turned over the phone, i picked it up and proved that he was not, 2nd time, he looked at the clock on his phone, at lunch, again, it was taken, again, i picked it up, they would not even let us prove that he was not texting, so how is this due process, we are not allowed to prove anything. Students are treated badly quiet often, they are quilty and not always allowed to prove thier innocence. my son is a honor student w/ all “A’s”, never been in trouble, but now, he has 2 strikes against him. Schools are overstepping their bounds. We are going to turn off our land line, but what happens, if they get hurt, or someone tries to break in the house, after school, and they don’t have a phone to call for help. Which school district will be sued 1st for injury to a child, because their phone was taken? Doesn’t confiscating a phone violate: Sec. 19. DEPRIVATION OF LIFE, LIBERTY, ETC.; DUE COURSE OF LAW. No citizen of this State shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, privileges or immunities, or in any manner disfranchised, except by the due course of the law of the land.
      It is only a matter of time before a child is hurt and will have no way to call for help. I know lots of moms who get home 30 minutes or later after their elementary kids, (latch key kids), they cannot afford a land line. Someone needs to stop this law or rather this abuse of this law. Mom of a 12 yr old and 14 yr old. Thank you
      Dear Tommie: Your point is a valid one. Have you tried to discuss this with the teacher or school principal? Most schools have “Acceptable Use Policies” regarding cell phones at school, with consequences for violating the rules. There may be a way for you to have any notes in his record removed or at least an explanation from you and your son added to his file. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • tre rascon
      Thu, 11 Nov 2010 at 10:54

      ok so i have a question. i am doing a speech on if schools should start doing drug tests, but isnt that an invasion of privacy? And the other thing i want to know is if you do something illegal is your right of privacy taken away?
      Dear Tre: Depending on the crime committed, you may lose some privacy rights in the course of an investigation, arrest, lock-up, etc.
      As far as drug testing at school, take a look at this post on askthejudge.info http://www.askthejudge.info/do-i-have-to-take-a-drug-test/45/
      The issue was decided by the Supreme Court in 1995 when James Acton challenged his school’s random drug testing policy for student athletes. James lost his case – the Court talked about privacy and the fact that students give up a degree of privacy by going out for sports (in the locker room, etc). Then in 2002, in the case of Lindsay Earls, the Court ruled in favor of drug testing students who participate in any extra-curricular school activity. Lindsay was in the school band. Good luck with your speech.
      [This is information only - npot legal advice].

    • Nick
      Thu, 18 Nov 2010 at 12:50

      this website is not that helpful and texting in class should be ok….
      Dear Nick: Thanks for excercising your free speech rights.

    • Jenny
      Tue, 04 Jan 2011 at 09:10

      My 18 year old son had his iphone4 taken away at school for having it out during his lunch period. The school called me to verify that he did in fact own an iphone4 and for me to describe it to them..I did what they asked and told them that I had just bought the phone for him for his 18th birthday on craigslist. I spent 400 dollars for the phone and thought it was a legit transaction since the phone came with the box, charger, headphones, etc. and the guy we bought the phone from was local…We went to his house to make the purchase.. The school told me that they would need to confiscate his phone for a few days for having it out during lunch..I said ok…Then I got a call a few days later telling me that they had obtained the serial number from inside the phone to check to see if he had stolen it( after I had already confimred that I bought him the phone ) Then they told me that it was a stolen phone…I then called At&t to confirm this…they said that they had no record of it being stolen. I beleive the school took his phone away assuming it was stolen…now they are getting a subpeona to try to prove it…We were told it would take 2 weeks…it has been 2 months and they are not returning our phone calls..Can the cops take your phone and keep it assuming it is stolen? Do we have the right to recieve some sort of proof so that we can press charges against the guy we bought the phone from? There seems to be some sort of violation going on here…but I just dont know…Thanks so much
      Dear Jenny: There may be a few things going on here. The school may have notified the police about the phone and the police are investigating whether it’s stolen or not. If the phone becomes part of an official police investigation (as stolen property, for example) law enforcement can keep the phone for a reasonable period of time. If it turns out that it is stolen and the seller is prosecuted, you can ask the court for restitution. Ask the officer assigned to the case to keep you updated on its progress. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • mceyanni
      Sat, 29 Jan 2011 at 01:17

      i got my phone taken away from my school not cause i was text-ing of using it just cause i put my bag thru the scanner and they asked for my bag and searched for he item which was the phone and took it..
      i didn’t sign the student code book so they don’t have the right to do that.. but what should i do.
      i dint get it… why are they starting to take phones away in the middle of the year and not enforce it in the beginning of the year.. but students are allowed ipods but not cell phones.. but ipods you can do the same thing as an ipod touch
      Dear Mceyanni: We’re not sure why your school chose to start enforcing its rules concerning cell phones during middle of the year, but if the school’s rules and policies are no cell phones, then they had reason to take it away. Check your school’s “Acceptable Use Policy” (AUP) which will tell you the rules for cell phones on campus and the consequences for violating the rules. It may not matter that you didn’t sign the student code book since AUP’s are the school rules regardless of whether you agree with them. You could try talking to the principal or another school administrator about this issue and see if they’re willing to return your cell phone. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Anonymous- stay classy
      Thu, 17 Feb 2011 at 01:02

      ok im really ticked right now. i got my iphone taken for a valid reason, but i want it back instead of a 40$ fine or a year removal. im sick of my stupid school rules, i have looked at the policy and statements, NOWHERE does it say it can be removed more than a schoolday.
      thats the policies- i have read through ALL the stuff regarding technology and confiscation and NOWHERE does it say anything about it. what can i do to get it back?(also, they FORCED me to sign a contract earlier in the year stating that i would need a parent to pay a fine and pick it up. my mom is a flight attendant, I NEED MY PHONE! help? they FORCED ME to sign it.)
      Dear Anon: The rules of the school apply to you whether you signed the agreement at the beginning of the school year or not. When your mom returns from her next flight, tell her what happened and she should be able to discuss this with the principal or appropriate staff member at school. We know this isn’t what you want to hear, but your school’s Acceptable Use Policy (Code of Conduct) is in place for legitimate reasons. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • deven
      Thu, 17 Feb 2011 at 03:14

      hey i was in class texting and they whent though my my phone and 13 people got in troble becuse some ignerent girl said i was texting anay ways is it leagle to go though some one’s phone with out ther permission
      Dear Deven: At the beginning of the school year you were given a Student Handbook and Code of Conduct. You may have had to sign for them indicating that you’re aware of the school rules about cellphones, etc. on campus. Read the section titled “Acceptable Use Policy” for details on this subject. Usually if a teacher has reasonable suspicion that a rule is being broken (texting in class) or a law violated, they can confiscate the phone. Whether they can read through it depends on the laws in your state. Google the name of your state and “cellphone privacy at school” for more. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • shawn
      Tue, 01 Mar 2011 at 02:13

      if i refuse to give my principle my phone does he have a reason to take me to court or even have a case?
      Dear Shawn: You have to look at your Student Handbook for the rules about cellphones at school. Most schools today authorize teachers and principals to confiscate phones if a rule has been broken (goes off in class, you use it or text on it during class, etc.). As a student you’re required to obey school officials. If the principal asked for your phone and you refused there may be legitimate consequences. Talk this over with your parents and maybe schedule a meeting with the principal to work this out. This is not an issue that would go to court unless no agreement or resolution is reached and someone decided to file a lawsuit over this. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Conner Tatum
      Tue, 01 Mar 2011 at 10:18

      Recently a school official confiscated my friends phone for being out on his desk. After quitting all applications and turning it off he handed it to the teacher, who gave it to the office to hold until after school. When returned to my friend the dean of student commented on how he considered many of his text inappropriate. While no action has been taken against my friend is this kind of brazen and invasive behavior allowed?

      Things to note:
      It is a private school
      The phone is property of his father
      The actions preceding the confiscation were not under investigation by the school
      Further there is no rule regarding confiscation of phones if they are visible, just if they are in use, the school is very liberal in confiscating them though.
      The phone was off when taken, he was not accused of using it, texting or cheating –just fiddling with it. This means they had to turn on the phone, turn on the texting application and navigate through the different persons for no other reason than to pry into his personal life.

      Lastly my friend was not in anyway punished, having the foresight to not send anything truly offensive or inappropriate, but the invasion of privacy really makes my blood boil and I question the legality of it.

      Thanks in advance for any info,

      Conner T
      Dear Conner: What was done with the phone once taken may have constituted an invasion of privacy but not necessarily an illegal act. It depends on the reason for checking the phone, the rules of the school (check the Student Handbook or Code of Conduct), any prior history of unacceptable behavior, etc. This is a new area of the law – one that is evolving across the country. A meeting with the principal or headmaster may shed some light on the situation. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • JoleneS
      Wed, 02 Mar 2011 at 04:56

      Hello, today an issue popped up in school. And, to be clear, because I’m not sure if the laws are different in this case, I do go to a private school. A student was expelled for veiwing inapropriate websites on their iPhone in school during school hours. Because of this though, my principal ordered that all cellphones be confiscated to be searched. She stated that under law, and because this is a private school, she has the right to do so. Although I can’t recall me or my parents signing any sort of agreement to this kind of search in the beginning of the year, I accepted in fear of detention or suspension. Also, I looked through my schools disciplinary policy, which you can see here:
      to check if this was okay. I didn’t find anything and I felt that my personal property was unjustly being searched and seized without my or my parents’ authority.
      And please remember, I was not caught texting or using my phone and my principal had no reasonable cause to suspect that I was doing anything illegal or harmful, our phones were simply confiscated.
      All this I wouldn’t have minded so much, except that at the end of the day, a little while before I got ready to leave, an announcement was made that anyone who had their cellphones confiscated could come to retrieve them, except the five people in my class of eight (we are a small school) who had cellphones. When three of us went to ask why our cellphones were taken away and not returned, our principal kicked us out of her office, without any comments or explanation, she was even mad that we came to ask at all.
      Only one of us said that they actually had texted in class, and the rest of us denied it. I don’t know if everyone else is telling the truth, I know I am, but I really trust them and I know they wouldn’t lie about something like this.
      Now I still have no phone, which I need for so many things. I barely call anyone with it, but I use it to organize myself. I can’t even text because my text messaging is broken, so how could I have been texting in class? I use my phone as an alarm clock, notepad, calendar, dictionary, scientific calculator, and even just for searching the web and going on Facebook. I use it for everything, including homework help, and I am being charged for everyday that I have it by AT&T. So basically, I really can’t afford to not have it, it can affect my grades, and waste my parents money.
      After all this, which I thank you for reading, what I really want to know is: Is any of this legal? Can my phone and personnal property be confiscated, kept against my will, and searched though (including pictures, text messages, contacts, Facebook) without reasonable cause, my permission, or justification?
      Please answer quickly, because I really need to know if there is anything I can do about this, and I need to know fast.
      I also forgot to mention that I am in 9th grade in a KG-9th grade school and I am a minor, so I don’t know if that will change anything.

      Thank you so much and I really apreciate your time and help.
      Jolene S.
      Dear Jolene: Since you are a minor in a private school, we suggest you discuss this with your parents who can make an appointment with the principal to review the situation. There may not have been anything illegal done here, but an explanation of the school’s policy regarding electronic devices is necessary, especially if not covered in your Student Handbook or Code of Conduct. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Sajan
      Wed, 02 Mar 2011 at 05:29

      Hey i got my phone tooken away today its the second tim but i was taking pictures my principle like ima call ur mom n she can pick it up 1st he told me to clean the cafeteria thought that was the consequence 2nd my mom wwas her she was in long beach so hes like well ur dad im ok cu my dads alm but when he tells my mom whoa all of hell gonna be released but i have Bs so i might pull through i got an anxiety rush i almost killed myself not litterally but thought bout it i got um what is it called not suspended or explelled but sometin==hing less forgot oh wel my lab teacher took and looked through my messages and pics is that legal and i sent a text and took numerous pics the first i took pictures to the first time my mum yelled screamed and gave me a watch becuz i was actually looking at the time i accidently took a pic so i have a watch but when she fins dude no mor PS3 no more nuthin Please pray for me and it hapened today is it legal to look through private stuff in our handbook they just coficate thats all it said but me the principle the other dude hes actually the vice priceipal the one that said imma call your mom but the priciple me r legitiment please what do u think i should do plese answer and please cooment i love u ppl
      Dear Sajan: If you violated the school’s Acceptable Use Policy regarding your cellphone, then the teacher/principal may be authorized to take the phone and keep it until a parent picks it up. At the beginning of the school year you may have signed an agreement that you understand the rules of the school and the consequences of breaking any rules. Check your Student Handbook or Code of Conduct and see what is said about cellphones in class or on campus. No matter what your phone has on it or how much trouble you get in, it’s not worth ending your life. If you want someone to talk to about being down or depressed, call 1-800-273-8255. There are professionals available to talk to who aren’t judgmental or come down on you, no matter what you’ve done. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Johnson
      Wed, 09 Mar 2011 at 08:39

      You guys just respond with the same answer every time don’t you. Also schools have the right to take anything that violates their policies.
      Dear Johnson: You’re right about schools confiscating things brought on campus, particularly anything that violates a zero-tolerance policy such as weapons, drugs, drug paraphernalia, etc.

    • Askthejudge.info
      Fri, 18 Mar 2011 at 11:41

      Good question in the AsktheJudge community: is it legal for a principal to search a females purse in search for a… http://fb.me/us7PLM7U

    • Kasey
      Mon, 18 Apr 2011 at 02:09

      Okay… I have been thinking for the past hour… If my phone is in my mother’s name (so it’s ‘her’ phone) and I got it taken away by school personel, isn’t it technically ‘stealing’ (or close to it). I was thinking… If it’s really my mom’s phone then it is not mine, and the school official confiscating it would be confiscating my mothers phone. I don’t know if that makes sense?

      It is as though the school officials find it easy to find another student using a cellphone during school hours, and they make this okay by putting this as a violation in the Student Handbook. I feel as though the school makes it too easy for what they do to be deemed okay. If I was a parent who needed to contact my child during school hours because, maybe they were sick or there was a death in the family, I would text them during a free period and I would be very angry if my child got the phone I am paying for taken away… I know I am a student and this is why I think this way… But I’m sure there is a way that this violates student rights… Or the rights of the owners (like parents) of the phones.

      I also feel as though it is very umpersonable of school officals to carry around and use their cell phones in front of students who are not supposed to use them. Especially the older students who are of legal age. IF they are of legal age, then could they still get their phone confiscated? Because it seems to me that there is just something wrong with the whole situation… It is not like these cell phones are a threat to the well being of others, and it is not like it is the school’s responibility to reprimand children. That’s the parent’s job, and if the parent does not want the child to serve a Saturday detention, there must be some legal evidence that could support the fact that the parent has a voice in the child’s punishment… No matter what Code of Conduct was signed in the begining of the year… WHICH may I add MUST be signed by students almost forcefully. So whether or not the student agrees to abide by it or not, the student has to sign it… Just for when cases like this a appear and the school can turn around and say, “Well you signed this.” I have knowen many cases when things are held from a student (report cards, certain extra-ciricular rights etc.) because the form was not signed.

      I feel as though students being a minor is the school districts way to deal with everything, and I find that there must be some law or legal evidence that supports the fact that it is not right. Thank you.
      Dear Kasey: You make some good points. However, the responsibility of a school is to provide everyone a safe, disruption-free environment within which to educate students. Consequently, rules are in place authorizing educators to take action when rules are broken. As you mentioned, the Student Handbook spells out these rules and policies that you’re required to abide. If the Acceptable Use Policy regarding computers, cellphones, etc. are violated, the appropriate consequence may be imposed including confiscation of the device for a day, week or longer. By signing the agreement at the beginning of the school year, you and your parents state that you’ve read the rules, agree to comply with them and fully understand the consequences if you don’t. Schools also recognize that they must acknowledge your freedoms of speech, association, press and religion. It’s a matter of balancing rights with responsibilities of both student and educator. All the best & thanks for writing.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Josh
      Sat, 30 Apr 2011 at 03:17

      My phone was taken up in school and they said that i wouldn’t get it back for two weeks and that my parents cannot come and get it until the two weeks is up. Are they aloud to hold it for that long without my parents being able to come get it?
      Dear Josh: Your school may be able to hold onto your cell phone for two weeks depending on your school’s rules and policies. Look at your Student Handbook as your school’s Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”) should tell you your school’s policy concerning cell phones and the penalties for violating the rules. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • thomas
      Fri, 13 May 2011 at 01:21

      I live in the uk and my school says we are not allowed to bring in phones with cameras. If it does get confiscated with a camera they will take it for two weeks. Then they say you can only get it back if your parents collect it. Some parents work and can,t collect it because of work. I have a phone with a camera on a contract and my parents will have to pay if I stop it. Is this leagal
      Dear Thomas: Most likely, what you’ve described is legitimate since the terms of both your contract with the service provider and the school rules are spelled out in a contract and your Student Handbook. You agreed in advance to these terms. We suggest that you ask one of your parents to call the school and make arrangements to pick up your phone. They are other students in your situation, with parents who work during school hours. The school has handled this before and they can explain it to your parents. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Alec Logan
      Tue, 24 May 2011 at 11:35

      Hello, I got my phone tooken up in my class earlier, and they said i cannot get my phone back until the last day of school, and no earlier. I also must pay 15 dollers in order to get it back, I referred to the Student Code of Conduct AND The Student Handbook and looked at The electronic cell phone Section, and I couldnt find any infomation telling if they can take your phone that long? Can they? Also i need my phone right now because im in driving school until 6:30, and i need it to find out what time im getting picked up by and who is picking me up.

      Please respond!
      Dear Alec: Yes, it’s possible for your school to hold onto your phone until the end of the year depending on its rules and policies. Try finding your school’s Acceptable Use Policy which should provide the rules concerning cell phones on campus. If you still cannot find anything, perhaps you and your parents could try meeting with the principal or another school administrator to explain the circumstances and that you don’t see any written rules about the school holding onto students’ phones until the end of the year. They may be willing to return your phone or work something out with you. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Celina
      Sun, 19 Jun 2011 at 11:06

      Hello, and thank you for this valuable resource. I am a teacher who confiscates approximately three cell phones a day. If I ever lose or damage one of these phones, or if something happens while my assistant is taking the phone to the office, am I responsible for damages? Thank you!
      Great question, Celina. The answer depends on the laws in your state and policies at school. Liability may pass to you or the school once you take possession of the phone. The school’s insurance may cover these situations especially, as you state, it’s a regular occurrence. Hopefully, any such incident can be resolved short of litigation.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • luis
      Wed, 27 Jul 2011 at 01:21

      i got stuff for school in my ipod touch like a dictonary calculator etc. i put it there becuse every thing is cheap and my parents dont have enough money for all that so can i take my ipod to school to use it for that?
      Dear Luis: That’s a good question and one asked by many teens. We don’t know what the rules are at your school regarding cell phones, computers, ipods, etc. Take a look at your Student Handbook for the policies at your school. It should have a section called “Acceptable Use Policy” that explains what’s allowed and what’s not. It should also explain the consequences for violating the policy (suspension, confiscation of the device, expulsion, etc.). Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Marlenna Moon
      Sat, 20 Aug 2011 at 11:26

      My daughters school policy on phones is:
      Students are not allowed to have cell phones (or other communication devices) turned on at school. Upon arrival students must turn off any cell phones. If a student needs to contact home for any reason they must come to the office. Permission will be given at the principals descretion. If a student has a cell phone “on” at school, the phone will be confiscated immediately and a referral will be sent to the office.

      My daughter got her cell phone taken away for the alarm going off (phone was off and in her pocket). This was her first offense and the first day of school. She was told that I (the parent) had to pick it up after school. The odd thing is that several of her friends got weird text messages from this phone, during the time in which the principal had the phone. Is that legal?
      Dear Marlenna: Try checking your daughter’s Student Handbook for the school’s “Acceptable Use Policy”. This should describe the school’s cell phone policy including when school administrators may search a student’s cell phone. Considering your daughter’s friends received text messages during the time her phone was confiscated, someone must have gone into her phone and possibly looked at previous texts as well as sent texts. This would be considered a search. Although it may not necessarily be illegal since a school official did this rather than the police, it could have violated the school’s policy. If you can’t find any written policy about cell phone searches in the Student Handbook, you could ask for a meeting with the principal to discuss this matter or even a meeting with the school board. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Braden
      Thu, 01 Sep 2011 at 07:27

      Since we are legally forced to go to school and indirectly forced to sign papers (AUP) doesn’t that make them void if you are forced to sign a document? How far can they go to force you to give them your phone if you just say no? I’m assuming they can’t put their hand in your pocket, or can they call the police and let the police force you? My school handbook or school policies don’t go into that much detail on any of my questions or anywhere else I can find I don’t even think my principals would know exactly. I live in Texas.
      Dear Braden: You have some good questions about school “Acceptable Use Policies (AUP)” Refusing to follow a school policy can result in disciplinary action or restrictions applicable to the subject at hand. By refusing to sign the AUP, you may be kept from using the school’s computers or other digital equipment. The school can’t “force” you to do anything, but there may be consequences for not complying with a request or demand of a school official. If “reasonable suspicion” exists that a school rule or law has been violated, educators have the authority to question you and conduct searches of your locker, bookbag, car, etc. on campus. They can also request your cell phone, laptop, tablet, etc. if suspicion includes communications with others. Take a look at New Jersey v. T.L.O. below for information about school searches:
      Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Braden
      Fri, 02 Sep 2011 at 04:35

      Exactly they can “request”, what if you deny their request and don’t hand it to them. What are their legal limitations to aquiring something on sombodys person? I thought if you take something out of somebody’s hand it can be considered assault?
      Dear Braden: Whether it’s assault or not depends on the legal definition of assault under the laws of your state. What you need to keep in mind is the fact that when a police officer tells you to do something, not following the order or request may constitute a crime in and of itself. Many, if not most states, make it a crime to disregard an officer’s command.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Braden
      Sat, 03 Sep 2011 at 10:42

      If there is no officer involved you are only disobeying the principals/teachers you don’t HAVE to hand the item over, untill an officer is involved correct?
      Thank you for the information.I always like to learn new things
      Dear Braden: That’s not necessarily true. Your school has rules and polices concerning cell phones on campus. Look at your school’s “Acceptable Use Policy” (AUP) which should be outlined in the student handbook. It should clearly state when and where a student may have a cell phone on campus (if at all). If you violate the rules, the teacher, principal, etc. has the right to confiscate it. Again, the AUP should state the rules concerning cell phone confiscation and how long the school can hold onto the phone. If you refuse to cooperate with your teacher, principal, etc. you may be facing further discipline like detention or even suspension, so why not just hand the phone over when asked to? If you feel that your rights are being violated and that you didn’t break any school rule, you could always attempt to challenge the school’s actions by requesting a meeting with the principal or even the school board. Thanks for asking.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • cymbria
      Tue, 13 Sep 2011 at 01:48

      I am the parent of a student who was caught using her cell phone in art class. The teacher did as the hand book rules said, and took the phone and it was to be returned to her the next day. On that next day, the teacher called me and said he was so sorry, but the phone fell out of his pocket and it broke. He said he knew he had to replace it and will do so in the next day or so. a few days later I was told by the 10grade principal that the main principal said no one had to pay for her phone.I called the principal and he said that he would let the teacher get her exact phone for the 39.99 and I explained to him (as i went to the at&t store to check that price and had the printed paper work to prove it from the at&t store) that the price they are talking about is with a NEW two year agreement. We allready have an agreement. SO…my question is this. If they take your phone, what liability do they carry if they broke it while it is in their possestion? The student handbook only states that they can keep it for a day and give detention.
      Dear Cymbria: It sounds like the teacher most likely needs to replace the phone since it broke while in his possession. You could try asking for a meeting with the principal and the teacher to explain your position and show them the paperwork concerning the price of the phone, etc. If you continue to have difficulty getting the exact phone replaced, you could ask for a meeting with the school board. As a last resort, you could try contacting a local attorney who handles school law cases to get further information and advice based on the laws in your state. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • JAMIE
      Mon, 19 Sep 2011 at 09:11

      Dear Jamie: First, check your son’s Student Handbook to see what is says about cell phone confiscation and when the school can search a student’s phone. Next, when you pick up the phone, see if you can speak with the principal and get an explanation as to why they went through his phone. If, for instance, they believed your son was viewing pornography during class then it most likely was reasonable to look thorugh his phone. If the principal’s explanation for looking through the phone does not include any suspicion of threats or criminal activity, you could speak with a local attorney who handles education law to find out whether your son’s rights were violated and what your options are. Good luck to you and your son.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Ondrea
      Tue, 27 Sep 2011 at 04:13

      Hello, I think this question has been answered before but I am not sure… I am going to a Beauty School and we have a no cell phone policy. It is in our contract that was signed at the beginning of the time you start there… I have an A average and have never gotten my phone taken away previous to today. My instructor (also the owner of the school) took my phone away and while in her possession she dropped it and the phone broke. When returning it, she said to me that she would not pay for it to be fixed, and returned it to me. I’m not sure what I should do…
      Dear Ondrea: Read your contract carefully to see if this type of situation is covered. If you agreed to the taking of the phone while at school, there may be additional language covering damage to the phone while in the school’s custody. If not, you may be able to insist on payment for the damaged phone. Speak with a local lawyer about your rights in this situation. He/she will know the laws that apply in your state. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Kyle
      Thu, 29 Sep 2011 at 09:57

      i was driving a car and my passenger was smoking weed. after she smoked it, she threw it away. my public high school vp came to my car and told me to roll down the window. smelling the pot, she brought me to the office. i asked for a parent or guardian and was declined. he innterogated the girl, she said nothing about me. he brought me in to the room and asked if i had been smoking pot. i said no. he asked if i had anything illigal on me. i didnt and i said no. he asked if he could get my phone. i gave it to him. he asked for the password and i sad no. he said if i gave him the password he wouldnt give it to the local police. he found” evidence” of drug dealing. i was interogated for another 3 hours and denide the right for a guardian/cousul after repeted requests. then, three hours later the police and my parents arive. the police told me that i was being charged with sales of a controlled sunstance. but? they gave us the phone and didnt impound the “smelly” truck. were any of my rights violated? why did they give the fone and vehicle back if im being charged with a felony??? if he haddent said that the fone wouldnt go to the police i would not have givin it to him?
      Dear Kyle: AsktheJudge.info doesn’t provide legal advice, only information about the law and references to appropriate resources. Since you have been charged with a drug offense, your parents can hire a lawyer to represent you or you can wait until your first court hearing and ask the judge to appoint you a public defender. Explain to the lawyer exactly what happened and he or she will know how to proceed with your defense. FYI, the Miranda warnings (when you’re read your rights by the police) doesn’t apply to school personnel, only law enforcement. Plus it doesn’t come into play until you’re in custody. Good luck.
      (This is information only, not legal advice).

    • mamak
      Thu, 06 Oct 2011 at 09:30

      My daughter’s cell phone was taken up at school, which is fine because she knows better than to have it out during class. When I called about getting it back, they told me that she would have to pay a $30 “fine” to get it back. Is this legal?
      Also, if a student does not have lunch money, they will not let them eat. This is a group of 12 year olds. Is this legal?
      Dear Mamak: Regarding the fine for the cell phone incident, check the school’s Student Handbook or Code of Conduct. Most public schools have what is called an “Acceptable Use Policy” that addresses digital devices on campus and the consequences for violating the rule. A fine may be an appropriate consequence & legal under your state education laws. You can also discuss this with the principal or assistant principal at the school.
      Regarding lunch expenses, take a look at this website for information. The National School Lunch Program has been in existence for over sixty years and is designed to provide free or low-cost meals to all students in public or private non-profit schools.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Ghettospace
      Tue, 18 Oct 2011 at 05:38

      Hello. Today the principle took my phone for using it in class. She took it like 4th time since September, and she told me she won’t give it back untill Summer. Does she have the right to do this?
      Dear G: Take a look at your Student Handbook and see what the school policy is regarding digital devices. Most schools have what is called an “Acceptable Use Policy” spelling out the rules about cell phones, tablets, iPads, etc. on campus. So, if you’ve broken the rules four times in the past month, you may have lost your cell until the end of the school year. And, yes, this is probably legal in your state. We hope you’ll learn from this about following rules.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • chris
      Sun, 23 Oct 2011 at 09:39

      hi my school requires you to give them the phone,the battery,and the sim card and if you refuse to give them that they suspend you. Can they do this and why do they need the battery unless they were going to search it?
      Dear Chris: Every school district has its own rules and policies concerning cell phones on campus. Check your school’s Student Handbook and the “Acceptable Use Policy” to see what is said about students and cell phones. As for why your school requires the battery in addition to the cell, you and your parents could ask to meet with the principal or another school administrator about this issue. You could express your concerns about your cell being searched and find out whether or not searches are actually occurring. Generally, a school may search a student’s cell phone if there is suspicion that the student is involved in criminal activity or a violation of a school rule has occurred. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • William
      Mon, 24 Oct 2011 at 02:13

      today my assistant principal took my phone, gave me two days ISS, and i wont get my phone back till one of my parents pick it up. Does the school system have the right to take my phone for however long that my be?
      Dear William: Most public schools have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) regarding electronic devices on campus. Check your Student Handbook for the rules at your school about this. Taking a phone that goes off in class or is being used by a student in violation of the police is common. A first offense may result in loss of the phone for the day; a second offense for the week, and additional violations may mean the rest of the semester or school year. So, you’re not alone with these penalties and courts have upheld the school’s discipline when challenged.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Stephanie
      Fri, 28 Oct 2011 at 05:23

      Ok , so at my school the pricipal says that we can have our phones , but they gotta be off . So today I was in gym & i was letting my phone charge , but it was off & they took it away. My question is , can the school keep my phone for 30 ? Is it illegal ? What if my mom wants to change my phone number & i need my phone to transfer all the information on the new phone to the phone the school has , can i get it back ?
      Dear Stephanie: Check your Student Handbook for the rules about e-devices at school. Almost every school has what is called an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that spells out what’s allowed on campus and what’s not. The penalties for violations should also be there. Usually schools will take the cell phone for a day or so for a first violation. A second can result in 30 days and some schools keep the phone until the end of the semester or school year for subsequent violations. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Jeffery Tyler Adams
      Tue, 01 Nov 2011 at 08:07

      I read this article and a few of the comments. Most of the questions was repeated and i was wondering if the schools could have a state offical, or someone that knows nothing about the students look through their phones, and be unbaised against the student. This way students can prove they did nothing wrong except texting in class or something along the sorts. The offical would look through the phone and see if any “sexting” “cyber bullying” or even proof of brakeing a law. What is your thoughts on this? Do you feel this could make it more simpler and the students would not have to worry about soemthing like what happoned in MoniB’s comment.

      Thank you
      Jeffery Tyler Adams
      Dear Jeffery: Whether it’s a teacher or other administrator at school, there must be a reason for searching a student’s cell phone. A reasonable suspicion that either a rule has been broken or a law violated. Bringing in another individual (state official) to conduct the search wouldn’t change the facts of the incident. Not to mention the cost involved in employing someone for this sole purpose. Few public schools have the resources to do this. Thanks for writing.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Troy
      Wed, 02 Nov 2011 at 02:39

      Okay, I like this article. I am big into laws and my rights. I don’t try to be a rebel, I just like to stick up for people. I do have a question though. Am I able to get in trouble and get my phone taken away before school? This happened to me once, and I was pretty mad. I went through the school handbook and no where did it say, “Mobile Devices are not allowed before school hours.” The only thing it says is, “Mobile Devices and electronics are not allowed to be used DURING SCHOOL HOURS.” School hours, depending on where you live, usually last from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. In this case, I should be able to use my phone before school hours outside of the school or even on school property. I told my principle that and he got me in even more trouble for “talking back.” I know it is the schools property but I mean, I signed papers saying that I won’t use my phone or any other electronics during school hour, now before. I have been suspended for this reason to. I still try to defend myself but it isn’t really working out and I need some help. If anything, they can only kick me off of the school property until I put away my phone or until school starts and then they can get me in trouble once I step on school property. Now when I think of it, me using my cell phone on school property before school hours is basically using my phone at walmart or something. Teachers should be able to get me in trouble. Even if a part of the phone is seen before school, they still take it and get us in trouble. I understand how the school can get involved if a fight was involved or something like that because the schools are liable for what happens then because it’s on school property. I really need to know this because I am tired of seeing people get in trouble when no where in their rules, that we agreed to, does it say we can’t use them before school. If you can help me and comment me back and also send the response to my email, it would be so helpful.

      Thank You,
      Dear Troy: You make some good points but you may be splitting hairs when it comes to challenging this school rule. Laws and rules have to be flexible in both interpretation and enforcement. For example, if you were caught on school property after hours or on a weekend night and didn’t know about a “No Trespassing” sign, you would expect a warning the first time you were caught. Police have the authority to issue warnings, right? However, a second violation may not have the same result.
      So, your school rule regarding cell phone use on campus during school hours has to be viewed similarly. You get the point of the rule even if every possible way around it isn’t spelled out in writing. Discuss this with your parents. You can always ask the principal for a meeting to talk about the rule and its enforcement. You’re not likely to win this argument but may gain a clearer understanding of the rule and the need for it. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Jeannie
      Tue, 08 Nov 2011 at 09:18

      I am just wondering if my daughters school does not allow texting in school, Is it ok for a coach which employed by the school to be texting her during class?
      Dear Jeannie: Most schools have what is called an “Acceptable Use Policy” regarding the use and possession of electronic & digital devices on campus. The rule should be in the Student Handbook and may include faculty and staff. Depending on the reasons for the coach to be texting your daughter in class, this may be something that needs to be looked into. Once you read the text messages you may want to speak with the coach and/or principal. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Teresa
      Fri, 11 Nov 2011 at 10:54

      My daughters Ipod got taken up at school for being out, there are conflicting stories,but I am not concerned to much about that. The school has had her Ipod for a week and what I want to know is can they legally charge me to get the Ipod back? They said I would have to come up and pay $15 for it. Is this legal?
      Dear Teresa: Check the school’s Student Handbook that’s usually given out at the beginning of the school year. In it is spelled out the school’s Acceptable Use Policies regarding all things digital. In signing for the Handbook you’ve agreed to the policies that may include fines for violations. You can also check with the district office for an explanation of the rule and their authority to impose fines. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • braden
      Mon, 28 Nov 2011 at 12:34

      Ha.I like troys comment [taking of his phone before school hours when those hours were not agreed or known to b enforced]. I personally think that’s just a common situation of somebody abusing their power even if they know they are wrong. I had a mean teacher (just a negative personallity) that told us we couldn’t have our phones out after school, just because she could. I wonder what the extent of the flexibility would be, common sense, or a legal official getting involved? Even though it usually doesn’t get that far if the parents make a big enough deal about it.

    • Mathew
      Wed, 14 Dec 2011 at 08:59

      I originally came to this article searching for something related to this topic. But to put it out there I have one question. My high school has a policy of holding onto phones overnight, and depending on how many times a student has been caught, then multiple nights. (Texting is not allowed during school hours.)

      I believe that is wrong. Do you? I can see it being reasonable just having parent come in everytime to get it, but to hold onto someone’s cell phone?

      Cell phone bills are hugely expensive these days, and they are using up money spent on that contract by holding onto the phone. In addition to that, a lot of students are employed and depend on their cell phones to keep in contact with their employer.

      I think it is benign to tell them to just copy numbers down that they need. I mean I don’t have a lot of contacts in my phone, but copying down 50 numbers or something? Besides I might have my employers number, but how does that help them reach me?

      But in addition to that, I have known teachers (vice principal) that tried guessing the codes and getting into students cell phones after they were caught texting in class to try to see if they were texting other students in class. I think that is completely wrong and a complete invasion of a student’s privacy, unless a law or something was broken, I do not think they should be able to do so without the student or parent’s permission. It think going through a student’s cell phone without permission is tantamount to going onto their laptop at home or something without permission. Thing’s on cell phones are just as sensative as something people may have on their computers these days, and should be treated as such.

      Please give me your thoughts on this subject.
      Dear Mathew: You make some good points regarding privacy and individual rights. However, schools do have the authority to create their cellphone and digital use rules. Most schools have what’s called an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that informs all students and parents of the restrictions while at school and consequences for violating the rules. These are set forth in the Student Handbook. That way you know in advance what’s expected of each student while on campus. The purpose is to minimize interference with teaching and to maintain an environment where learning can take place. The minimal consequences for breaking the rules is to get the student’s attention so that continued violations don’t occur. Keeping the cellphone overnight, for example, and requiring a parent to pick it up usually happens once – lesson learned. The expense involved and job responsibilities are additional factors a student must take into consideration when violating the AUP. As far as a student’s privacy regarding content on a cellphone or computer, that’s another matter. Schools are authorized to read text messages or search a student’s computer when reasonable suspicion exists that a rule or law has been violated. This may also be discussed in your student handbook. Discuss these matters with your parents and if a meeting with the principal is needed, they can make the arrangements. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • bob
      Wed, 21 Dec 2011 at 12:30


    • Jayla washington
      Mon, 26 Dec 2011 at 08:53

      My thing is you know the rule so why have your phone out. the searching part, check your school handbook stop asking the same question, your obvisly going to get the same answer
      THanks Jayla :)
      Good point. Thanks, Jayla.

    • nana
      Sat, 07 Jan 2012 at 08:06

      What if you get caught texting to a parent in the school while your in the bathroom ?
      Dear Nana: Look at your Student Handbook as your school’s Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”) should tell you your school’s policy concerning cell phone use at school and the penalties for violating the rules. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Haley
      Tue, 24 Jan 2012 at 09:55

      ok so i have an issue with my phone. I love texting. so im usually really good about hiding my phone. well in my first hour class i was on the phone with my boyfriend. the teacher just so happened to look straight at me at the wrong time. this is the 4th time getting it taken. my principle emailed all my teachers saying that if they see my phone out one more time hes keeping it til june. im a senior in high school. Can he really keep it? its a $400 smartphone. I do have a pattern lock on my phone so they cant go through it. my teacher does allow texting but no talking on the phone. again can they keep my phone? in the student handbook it says NO where about keeping a students phone til the end of the school year. I truly think this is ridiculous! thanks
      Dear Haley: The answer to your question is in the Student Handbook. Most schools have an “Acceptable Use Policy” that spells out when and where digital devices are allowed on campus. The consequences for violating the rules should also be there. If you’re being told one thing that contradicts the written policies in the Student Handbook, discuss this with your parents. They may want to schedule a meeting with the principal to clarify the situation. In the meantime, follow the rules to the letter so your phone isn’t confiscated. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Haley
      Wed, 25 Jan 2012 at 09:37

      ok this is a my bad, yesterday, i later found out that it is in the school handbook that the school can keep cell phones til the end of the school year. and it was approved by the state of michigan of education or whatever its called. I have read the student handbook and i really dont remember it saying that they can keep cell phones til the end of the school year. Couldnt parents do something about that? my mom couldnt afford to shut off my phone because thats what she would have to do IF i do end up getting my phone taken. And also i have this friend who got there cell phone taken before school even started because it does say that cell phones are not to be in use from 7:20 to 2:12. that was the first time she had her phone taken. if that happens with any other student can they do something about it?
      Dear Haley: You’ve learned a valuable lesson here. Rules are rules and they’re meant to be followed. Schools can’t make an exception because a student didn’t read or fully understand the Student Handbook. Most schools require students to sign an acceptance form when given the Handbook at the beginning of the school year. Both student and school are bound by the rules stated therein. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Maia
      Tue, 07 Feb 2012 at 02:18

      I got my phone taken off me in the morning (before first period), and my teacher never arrived to give it back to me after school, and because of that I missed my bus. She wouldnt give it back to me today. I am scared she wont give it back to me. Is it against the law to not give it back to me?
      Also, if they ask for my phone, do I have the right to say no??
      Thanks, Maia
      Dear Maia: Most schools have “Acceptable Use Policies” in place. Take a look at your Student Handbook and see what it says about cellphones and other digital devices on campus. Teachers are authorized to take phones but you have to look to the specific rules in your school regarding return of the phone and consequences for additional violations of the policy. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • William
      Tue, 07 Feb 2012 at 10:02

      CAN the school charge you a $15.00 fine if is not posted in hand book and the money goes to year end parties for teachers .Is that not a slush fund ?
      Dear William: Not all school district rules and policies are set forth in the Student Handbook. We suggest that you can contact the Superintendent’s Office about this and see if the fine is appropriate. You can also ask where the fines end up – do they go to the district’s general fund or, as you mentioned, to a slush fund to benefit staff. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • sierra
      Wed, 15 Feb 2012 at 08:04

      if i got my phone took second offesnse & they said that it gets taken for a month. but my parent offical comes in and asks for the phone back,sont they have to give it back, and or if my mom withdraws me from school to be homeschooled, do they have too give it back?
      Dear Sierra: The rules regarding cell phones and other digital devices at school are spelled out in the Student Handbook. It may be possible for the school to keep the phone for the month even if you don’t go to the school anymore. That may be something you and your parents can discuss with the principal. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Daniel
      Mon, 19 Mar 2012 at 02:46

      I was at lunch and had my phone in my hand on my lap and a teacher walked up and said “give me that phone.” so I quickly said “No, hold on let me turn it of.” then she reached for it and I jerked away and I had it at my crouch and she kept grabbing for it while in was at my crouch almost touching my private.. It was at lunch I wasnt bothering anyone? Is there anyway I can get my phone back? please help?
      Oh and also, Are teachers aloud to use their phones in class and cause a disruption? Are they better then us students? Do we not have the same rights as any other human being?
      Dear Daniel: Take a look at your Student Handbook. Most schools today have an “Acceptable Use Policy” spelling out the rules regarding phones and other digital devices on campus. Teachers are authorized to take phones when a school rule has been broken. Your question about equal rights with teachers is a good one. However, courts have long recognized that the rights of minors are not the same as adults. It may not seem fair, but a teenager’s brain is not fully developed until one’s early 20s and he or she isn’t held to the same standards as an adult. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Blaise Arizona Meachem
      Thu, 22 Mar 2012 at 07:50

      My school handbook says that cell phones must be off during the day and that they will be taken if seen or heard. I completely understand these rules and I follow them for the most part.
      A few days ago, one of my teachers told us to use the Web on our cell phones to get facts for a study we were completing. He gave us permission to use them and most of the class only used them for the study. The principal walks by and sees everyone with their phones out and immediately makes us put them in the bag or we will serve a suspension with possible expulsion. We tried to explain that the teacher had given us permission and the teacher even tried to explain himself but our principal didn’t listen. We cannot get our phones back for a while. Is this okay? Is there anything we can do to get our phones back sooner?
      Dear Blaise: There’s obviously been a misunderstanding here: either by the class or between the teacher and the principal. Discuss this with your parents. They can ask for a meeting with those involved to resolve this as soon as possible. Let us know how this turns out. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • makayla pfau
      Tue, 03 Apr 2012 at 10:39

      somebodys phone went off in class and the teacher took mine and another students after he askd us if it was ours and we replied no he still took it. and he went through my phone. at the beginning of the year he said he wasnt gna take our phones as long as he didnt see them that he wasnt gna go around askin ppl if they have it bt if he saw it he was gna take it and me and the other student wasnt even usin our phones and he took them. is he allowed to do that?
      Dear Makayla: You’ll have to look at what is called the “Acceptable Use Policy” at your school. Most schools have an AUP regarding the possession and use of all digital devices while at school. It should be included in your school’s Student Handbook. If it isn’t, check with the front office for a copy of the Policy. Teachers are generally allowed to confiscate a phone if it goes off or is being used during class. Whether they can search it is another matter. If they have reason to believe that a law or school rule is being broken, they can look at the contents, but there may be limits on how far they can go in checking your photos and text messages. Talk with your parents about this. They may want to schedule a meeting with the teacher and/or principal to straighten this out. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • joshua perez
      Thu, 17 May 2012 at 07:05

      If i got my phone taken away in school and i turn it off before i give it to them,does the school have the right (can they) turn on my phone and go through all my info (photos and texts) with out my or my parents permission…and if not what can my parents do about it?
      Dear Joshua: Take a look at your Student Handbook for the rules about digital devices at school. Most schools have an Acceptable Use Policy or Respectable Use Policy that sets out the rules about cell phones, computers, Blackberries, etc. on campus. Ordinarily, a teacher or administrator needs “reasonable suspicion” that a school rule has been broken or a law violated before conducting a search. But they are not held to the same standard as the police (probable cause). Discuss this with your parents. They may want to contact the school and get your phone back. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Travis
      Tue, 29 May 2012 at 08:05

      A teacher took my phone and threw it on the ground breaking it. Is Thats legal or can i sue for destrution of personal property?
      Dear Travis: Intentional destruction of another person’s property is not legal. The circumstances must be considered and rather than going straight to court over this, talk with your parents. They may want to meet with the teacher to resolve this short of a lawsuit. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Alex
      Tue, 28 Aug 2012 at 07:47

      I have a new teacher that makes us turn our phones into him at the beginning of class, we did nothing. Its a new school year with nothing in the handbook or AUP about turning our phones into teachers at their request without first seeing our phones out. Considering this is still the first week of school i am sure of whats in those policys, and my parents and i also have not signed any of the papers yet. Im assuming this is against the law or I’d expect more teachers to be doing this. My personal opinion is i wouldn’t set $200 on a table with 30 other kids in the class i dont know, with a teacher that frequently leaves the room so why would i have to with my phone? Anyways is this legal and if so set the teacher up for liability in Texas?
      Dear Alex: If this is not a new school rule, it sounds like it’s the teacher’s policy which probably is not “illegal”. However, if you and your parents are concerned about turning over your phone without breaking a school rule, perhaps you could ask for a meeting with the principal and/or other school administrators. The principal may not realize that your teacher has this new rule and may require that the teacher follows the school’s “Acceptable Use Policy” concerning cell phones rather than making new rules. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • John W Brooks
      Sun, 02 Sep 2012 at 11:28

      I have a question my granddaughter phone droped out her back and she had to pay 10.00 to the asst. principle. There is a rule that cell phones must remain in the child locker during school hours. Is this legal to make a child pay 10.00 for the return of their phones?
      Dear John: Most schools now have “Acceptable Use Policies” concerning the use/possession of cell phones and other devices on campus. Fines and fees are sometimes required when one of the rules has been broken. You can check your granddaughter’s Student Handbook to see what it says about these rules and policies. If you want to discuss your granddaughter’s situation with a school administrator, you could ask for a meeting. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Alex
      Fri, 14 Sep 2012 at 09:41

      So during lunch everyone we had a food fight and i was recording with my phone ( were not allowed to have cell phones during school) and one of the teachers saw me and took it. Later they called my mom to tell her i had bad stuff like pictures from pArtys and they wanted to talk to her. Can they look at my pics, texts and other videos. I understand if they just look at and delete the video but im not sure if what i do outside of school is their buissness.
      Dear Alex: Refer to your Student Handbook to see your school’s Acceptable Use Policy concerning cell phones and other electronic devices on campus. If the rules/policies mention confiscating a student’s phone when a student breaks the rules, but doesn’t mention anything about searching the student’s phone, you and your parents may want to discuss what happened with the principal or another school administrator. Many schools require reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or a violation of the school rules before searching a student’s phone. Generally, some level of suspicion is usually required. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Ian
      Mon, 01 Oct 2012 at 07:31

      Can a teacher or principal legally take your cell phone away.
      Dear Ian: Take a look at your Student Handbook for the rules about digital devices at school. They cover cell phones, iPads, computers, etc. Usually if you violate a rule (cell phone goes off in class, etc.) it can be taken for a period of time. With each violation the penalty increases. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • jessica
      Wed, 17 Oct 2012 at 07:24

      If a student who is 18 lives with his grandmother spends all of his time outside of school taking care of her gets his phone taken by the principal he asks to get an important phone number out of it and the principal decides to start going through his texts instead of simply handing him the phone to get the number. Is this conflicting with any cell phone privacy laws at all?
      Dear Jessica: That depends on whether such laws exist in the state where this was done. Some states have laws regarding cell phones and students. You can check the school’s Student Handbook for the rules regarding cell phones and what happens when they’re taken from a student. You can also discuss this with the principal and/or school superintendent. Generally, a school official may search a phone if “reasonable suspicion” exists that either a law or school rule has been broken. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • yitz
      Sun, 20 Jan 2013 at 06:15

      Is it legal for a private school to search phones to see if they have internet access(in California)
      Dear Yitz: Private schools that don’t receive federal funds may have different rules that may be legal under the laws of the state where it’s located. So, rules regarding cell phone searches and even confiscation when a school rule is broken may be legitimate.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Shyenna
      Thu, 31 Jan 2013 at 05:12

      Okay so I’ve read my student hand book and I have not seen anything about this but I video taped a fight but I deleted it didn’t send it or post it! But now every day my principal takes my phone! Is he allowed to do this?
      Dear Shyenna: We suggest you talk with your parents about this. They may want to meet with the principal to find out why he’s taking your phone. There may be a state law authorizing his actions. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Asia
      Mon, 04 Feb 2013 at 08:42

      Its not right that kids cannot have phones during schol. What it its a personal manner and a family member died. And at my school they keep your phone for 3 days and you get In-School Suspension. They dont know what type of business we have to handle and they dont care! I’m soo angry!
      Thank you for your comments, Asia. You make some great points! -ATJ

    • Matt
      Thu, 14 Feb 2013 at 10:07

      I was texting in class, and my teacher forcibly took the phone out of my hand to confiscate it. I was wondering if this is reasonable. The school district policy states: “When an
      employee confiscates an electronic device under this policy, he/she shall take reasonable
      measures to label and secure the device”
      Dear Matt: It may have been reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if the teacher asked you for it and you either hesitated or refused to turn it over, then taking it may be considered reasonable. Your school probably has an “Acceptable Use Policy” regarding digital devices at school. This incident may be something you should discuss with your parents. They may want to schedule a meeting with the teacher and/or principal. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Parker Hespenheide
      Thu, 14 Feb 2013 at 05:39

      Hey Judge Tom, I really need your help. First of all I was called down to the office today because some kid at my school said that kids were using heroin in the bathroom and that same kid also gave them a time of when they thought this was occurring. So administrators said that they could search me just out of suspicion of what that kid told them. Is that okay?

      Second, if they never asked to take my phone and they just took it and are searching through it without any permission or probable cause. Is that okay also? And if so can anything on my phone be used against me and can I be charged with even more from the content on my phone? I’ve looked everywhere but I think your the only one that can help me. Please reply as soon as possible.
      Dear Parker: Schools do have the authority to conduct searches of students, their backpacks, cars on campus, desks, etc. if they have what’s called “reasonable suspicion” that either a school rule or law has been broken. They are not held to the higher standard of “probable cause” because they are not law enforcement officials. So, yes, if reasonable suspicion exists, you can be asked to turn over your cell phone, empty your pockets, etc. If evidence of criminal activity is found on your phone, they can turn this over to the police who will conduct their own investigation. If you’re worried about what might be found, you may want to discuss this with your parents. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Emily
      Sat, 16 Feb 2013 at 09:20

      Im never on my phone during school and i never even look at it because i dont want it taken away but Yesterday I was in 5th period and my phone was in my purse on silent. Every time someone calls me it stills rings even if it is silent. The only reason is wasnt turned off is because last time i turned it off during school it it didnt turn back on and it was frozen. Well an unknown number called me during class and my teacher took my phone and said she will have it for a month. I read other peoples stories about their phone bein taken away and they get it back at the end of the day so is there a way I can get it back sooner can my parents sign something and get it back or do I need to talk to anyone? My brother got his phone taken a couple of it ears ago and the same day my parents signed something and got it back. My dad even said 30 days is ridiculous because the phone is for emergencies and he needs to get a hold of me. Also he has to pay a lot of money a month for the phone so it’s like hes wasting money if I can’t even use it for a month. Is there any way I can get it back sooner? I dont want them to look through my phone either. Plus I need my headphones and there plugged into my phone.
      Dear Emily: It may be possible to get your phone back sooner than a month from now. Ask your parents to schedule a meeting with the principal or vice-principal to discuss this situation. A calm discussion with the powers that be may be successful here. Otherwise, the school will follow their written policy set forth in the Student Handbook about violations of their digital device rules. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Stephanie S.
      Sat, 23 Feb 2013 at 03:21

      My friend got her IPod Touch taken away by the principal yesterday. (We live in California) And I was one of the first people that were sent to the office and she looked through my messages in her office just me and her. She said she is “still deciding” how long my friend is being suspended and the principal still has her itouch. Is this legal?
      Dear Stephanie: Your friend needs to look at the school’s “Acceptable Use Policy” concerning the use of electronic devices on campus. This policy should be spelled out in the Student Handbook. Typically, if a student violates the policy, the school will take the device and keep it for a certain amount of time. Generally, the school needs “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity or of a school rule being broken in order to search a student’s phone. If you believe you or your friend’s rights have been violated, talk to your parents about this and you may want to request a meeting with the principal. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Jo-Anne
      Tue, 12 Mar 2013 at 08:45

      My daughter got her cell phone converscated this morning by the SAPS together with the schools headmaster.The grade 12 scholars were told that should they not get there cell phones out there school bags the sniffer dogs will find them.Certain learners cell phones were converscated why I dont know.We live far from the Hex Vallei High School situated in the town of De Doorns that my daughter attends and where our farm is situated outside the town of Touws River is fairly far from the bus stop where she travels to and from school from so the reason for her needing to have her cell phone on her after school is to let me know whether her bus is going to be late which makes life alot easier for me other wise I have had to sit in my car waiting almost 2hrs due to the bus being delayed.I feel the police had know right to converscate somthing I paid for and this includes the headmaster too.I am going to lay a charge of theft against the De Doorns Police Station and the headmaster of Hex Vallei High.
      Dear Jo-Anne: Filing a suit or complaint against the police department and the headmaster may not be a real productive use of your time. First, you may want to check your daughter’s Student Handbook to see what it says about cell phones on campus as most schools have an “Acceptable Use Policy” or something similar that spells out the rules about electronic devices at school. You could also request a meeting with the headmaster to discuss your daughter’s situation and see whether the school will work out a compromise with you and your daugther. Perhaps they’ll let her bring her phone to school, but she may need to check it at the front office every day. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Theresa
      Mon, 15 Apr 2013 at 12:52

      I’m 17, live in Missouri, and am a junior in high school. Technically, according to the state of Missouri, I’m no longer a minor… Kinda. I’m in the middle of being an adult and a minor. I can still be charged as an adult, but there are still some things I can’t do, like vote and what not.
      Just a few days ago, the SCHOOL POLICE(not a teacher. School police are seperate from the school itself) took me in, searched my belongings, AND my phone. The school officer looked through my pictures. Is she allowed to do that? She didn’t even ask if she could, she just did it. She didn’t tell me what she was suspicious of either. Could she get in trouble for doing so?
      Dear Theresa: Without knowing all of the details and what was known by the officer at the time of the search, we cannot say whether her actions were legal or not. Plus AsktheJudge.info doesn’t provide legal advice or analysis of situations. Generally, school officials may conduct a search if they have what’s called “reasonable suspicion” that a law or school rule has been broken or is in the process of being violated. So, based on what the officer knew at the time, the search of your backpack and cell phone may have been in compliance with school rules and the law. For more specific information, you can talk with a lawyer who practices school law or a criminal defense attorney if formal charges are brought against you. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Zackary Meadows
      Fri, 19 Apr 2013 at 11:45

      My phone was taken up in class for texting, I was thinking… wouldn’t it be against the law to charge a child ten bucks to get it back? An if it’s legal wouldn’t that be unconstitutional?
      Dear Zackary: Your school may be able to hold onto your cell phone and possibly charge you to get it back depending on your school’s rules and policies. Look at your Student Handbook as your school’s Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”) should tell you your school’s policy concerning cell phones and the penalties for violating the rules. It’s not uncommon for schools to charge a student especially if it’s a second or multiple violation. As far as we know, this policy of charging students has not been challenged in court, but because having a phone on campus is not a constitutional right, but a privilege, then schools can most likely charge a small amount for the violation. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Taylor
      Sat, 17 Aug 2013 at 11:26

      I’m 18 and I was wondering if I work and pay for my phone by myself and a teacher takes up my phone what can I do? My school makes you wait until the following Monday to get it and charges 15 dollars. Can I just demand that I have it back considering I am a legal adult?
      Dear Taylor: School rules are school rules. Most schools don’t have separate policies for adult students and those under 18. The digital devices policy is most likely spelled out in your student handbook including the penalties for breaking the rules. You’re stuck with those until you’re no longer at the school.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Sandra
      Fri, 04 Apr 2014 at 03:30

      Sorry for my typos I meant at my sisters high school last week they did backpacks search and her ipod and many of the students iPods and cell phones were taken without any reason. The principal said the iPods and cell phones were going to be donated and many parents including myself believe that’s unfair and not right. My parents worked really hard to buy my sister that ipod for her birthday and for the principal to do a search and take students iPods/cellphones without any excuse and decides to donate them seems like my parents hard work 3 paychecks seem to have gone down the drain. I need an advice. What I can I do?
      Dear Sandra: Take a look at your Student Handbook for the rules regarding cell phones, iPods, etc. Most schools have an “Acceptable Use Policy” that states the penalties for breaking the rules. Keeping confiscated digital devices for a period of time is common but donating them is questionable. Your parents may want to schedule a meeting with the principal or school superintendent to resolve this. They could also talk with a local lawyer who specializes in education or school law. Take a look at our Resource Directory for a lawyer near you:
      Good luck. This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Sandra
      Sat, 05 Apr 2014 at 09:42

      What if I already spoke to the vice principal? My parents and I have gone to school more than 4 times this passed two weeks and all the principal and school advisor have said is that the ipod from my sister wasn’t going to be given back and that is going to donation. The ipod has important information from my mom and the vice principal refuses to give it back insisting it’s going to donation. I would like add that he laugh at our faces and he’s a corrupt liar. In one of the meetings we had with staff sent by the network in other words the school board he deny everything. He practically said my parents and I were lying and he never said the ipod was going to donation which he did. I don’t know what else to do seriously. I need advices please. The ipod was taken without any good reason but it’s not only my sisters ipod but many other students iPods and cell phones too. Taken from their backpacks when a principal did search
      Dear Sandra: Again, you could try speaking with the school superintendent about this. If you have already tried, then it may time to contact a lawyer who handles education law. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation or you could try your local legal aid office as they often deal with education law matters for free or on a sliding scale basis. Good luck to you and your family.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Donte
      Fri, 25 Apr 2014 at 09:48

      so, teacher took my phone today and put it in a lil bucket with everyone else phone she kept mine for a whole day and it was stolen 700$ galaxy s4 my school allows phones but this teacher is rude. she took my phone because i was changeing a song T.T really… only teacher that doesnt allow u to touch ur phone at all i get payed by the state to take care of my grandma because she has lupis and because the teacher carelessly lost my 700$ phhone i got to sit and listen to #%@^&* and its illegal for me not to have my phone on me how do i get my money and sue her?
      Dear Donte: We suggest you talk with a local lawyer about this. Some of your state laws may come into play here as well as the school’s rules regarding digital devices on campus. Contact a lawyer who practices education or school law. Many lawyers offer free consultations for the first thirty minutes or so. Ask about this when you call a lawyer. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Jordan
      Thu, 15 May 2014 at 08:11

      If I’m not doing anything wrong like not violating the school rules but my phone is out, but I’m not doing anything on it..can they take away my phone with out permission?
      Dear Jordan: That depends on the exact language of the school rules regarding digital devices such as your cell phone. Take a close look at your Student Handbook to see what the rules are. It’s possible that mere possession at school violates the rules. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • James
      Mon, 25 Aug 2014 at 07:04

      um i am 18 im currently still in school, does a teacher have the right to confiscate my cellphone? and also do they have the right to say i cant listen to musics through headphones?
      Dear James: Yes, it’s probably acceptable for the teacher to take your phone if you are violating the rules concerning electronic devices. All schools have Acceptable Use Policies concerning electronic devices on campus. Check your Student Handbook to find the specific rules and to make sure the teacher was justified in taking your phone. The same goes for listening to music. If you believe the teacher was not justified, you (and your parents) may want to ask for a meeting with the principal to further discuss. Good luck.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

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