Recently, a friend of mine told me about an incident that had occurred at his high school which required him to hand over his cell phone to school administrators. He told me that he assumed he had to comply with the order because he signed the school handbook. After he described this incident to me, I wondered on what grounds are schools able to demand phone passcodes and what rights do students have in these cases?

I did some research about this and the wording in his school handbook didn’t specifically mention anything about providing passwords for phones, so this action (of giving away your passcode) can only be done through verbal permission. He willingly gave up his password because of the guilt and pressure that administrators placed on him as well as what he assumed about his rights.

It is absolutely ridiculous that school officials even asked for this. They don’t have any authority to request such an action. Don’t let administrators make you believe that your privacy does not exist. You have the right to say NO if this type of situation arises. Schools do not have any right to look at your personal property or information without a warrant.

Here is some helpful info to protect your privacy at school:

https://www.aclunc.org/our-work/know-your-rights/student-cell-phone-privacy

 

Schools can only look at your phones if they have reasonable proof that you broke a school rule. Through looking at your phone, schools are then able to dispel suspicion and wrongdoing.

On the other hand, what would happen if your student handbook specifically states it has the power to collect cell phone passwords?

Most school handbooks are not legally binding and don’t have authority, so don’t worry about being in a legal bind if you sign your school handbook. It is crazy how so many cases arise where school administrators act in ways that jeopardize student’s rights. Students need to stand up for their legal rights, and they should be informed about what their rights on school campuses are.

If this is happening to you, reach out to organizations that fight for student online rights like the ACLU and EFF. Only by knowing your rights can you prevent them from being taken away!

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