Schools weigh cellphone search ruling

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When David Baker was an assistant principal at Hartford High School about four years ago, he came upon a cellphone that had been left in the school’s auditorium. An announcement was made over the intercom looking for the owner of the phone, but no one claimed it. So Baker and another administrator turned on the phone to try to identify the owner. Once the phone was on, a text message popped up in plain view about a quantity of marijuana.

“It’s that kind of stuff that gets really tricky and sticky,” said Baker, who is now superintendent of Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union. “I don’t think you should ever arbitrarily search anything. It needs to be a matter of student safety, and it needs to have a level of student protection.”

If anything, school officials’ right to search students’ cellphones has only become trickier and stickier because of a recent Supreme Court decision making it clear that police officers need a warrant before searching a cellphone.

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