SCOTUS ruling might handcuff school safety

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's been a longtime, informal practice in many schools: Principals – on occasion and when warranted – confiscate and search cellphones if students are suspected of wrongdoing.

As classes open this month, though, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling forbidding police from searching suspects' cellphones may inadvertently make schools less safe, some principals, school parents and students say.

Principals might now refrain from searching a student's cellphone as part of an investigation and might not find evidence of the next act of violence, cheating or vandalism, giving educators a chance to prevent it.

"On more than one occasion (phone searches) allowed us to prevent some drug sales," said Brian Martin, principal of Ross High School in Butler County.

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