• Should you expect privacy in the bathrooms at school?

    Date: 04.08.10 | by Judge Tom.

    It sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? Of course you expect privacy even if it’s a public restroom. Just because you’re at school and because you’re a minor, you still have what courts have called a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in your locker, backpack, showers and locker room.

    Blyzz(flickr)

    The privacy right, however, is not absolute – under certain circumstances the school administration may search your locker or personal belongings. If there is a “reasonable suspicion” that a school rule or law is being broken, then a search may be conducted. However, the law does not permit invading your space in the restroom by use of cameras.

    Crestwood Middle School in Florida had a problem with graffiti in some of the bathrooms. In an attempt to stop the vandalism, the principal had installed fake surveillance cameras. Word spread quickly to parents who objected even though the cameras weren’t real. They argued that even a fake camera can intrude into a child’s privacy by evoking the feeling of being watched. Parents also wondered about what else the school was doing along those lines.

    The cameras have been removed and some parents are considering filing a lawsuit against the school.

    How would you react to a camera in a school locker room or bathroom even if it was a fake? Would it’s presence bother you like some of the students at Crestview who waited until they got home? Do you think since the school removed the cameras that a lawsuit is appropriate? Why or why not?

    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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    • Kelly
      Wed, 05 May 2010 at 04:53

      lawsuit, no. But fake cameras in the bathrooms are just weird.