Phones are devices that are used in the modern world to aid easy communication. It is common for kids in the modern world to get phones at a young age. Most of these devices are bought and used in school. These mobile devices end up as a distraction during classes. In most instances, some use it for illicit activities. Let us know Are Teachers Allowed To Take Your Phone?
There are situations where teachers are allowed to take phones from kids. Although most schools place a ban on the use of phones by their students. However, in schools that do not, teachers can seize the students’ phones which causes distraction during school hours or class time.
Rights Of A Student In School
As earlier stated, teachers have a right to seize a student’s phone during school hours if it causes any form of distraction. However, except in grievous situations, a teacher cannot permanently take a student’s phone, nor do they have a right to privacy and unreasonable seizure of private or personal properties amount to a breach of their rights. However, if the school suspects that any student is violating the school rules with their phones, they can search such phones. Students can even be punished if they refuse to unlock their phones or restrain their phones from being searched.
Can Teachers Confiscate a Students Phone?
It has been pointed out earlier that a teacher can seize the phone of a student if it violates the school rules. Different laws guide private properties, both from state to state and from school to school. Therefore, where the phone violates the school policy, a teacher can confiscate a student’s phone. Most of the school rules are usually contained in the student’s handbook which will be handed over to the student upon enrollment, alongside the code of conduct.
Furthermore, cell phones can be used to cheat in exam halls. In such situations, punishments are served to students, while others are expelled depending on the laid down punishment for this crime. Where there is a rule guiding a certain action, there will be a punishment that will be meted out to those who contradict these rules.
Can Teachers Go Through The Content Of a Phone They Confiscated?
There are various circumstances under which a teacher can go through the content of a confiscated phone. Under the circumstances highlighted below, they have a legal right to go through the content of a phone without any legal actions being taken against them.
- According to some laws in some states, a teacher can search a student’s phone during emergencies that involve any serious threat that could lead to fatality or death to any person that needs access to that electronic information. Generally, a teacher has no right to go through the content of a student’s phone without their express permission. However, as stated above, there are exceptions. Where the situation at hand will qualify as a dangerous situation, it would be legal to search through the content of a confiscated phone.
- Where there is a search warrant for your personal property: Personal property could also include your phone. Where the phone stands as evidence for crime, the judge can issue a search warrant which will be carried out to help with the investigation [since it involves criminal activity, it will be done majorly by a law enforcement officer].
- Consent: Where the teacher requests to go through a student’s phone and they’re given a go-ahead, it does not amount to a violation of the student’s privacy. A student could consent or agree to let their teachers go through their phones either expressly or impliedly. However, where the student doesn’t give their consent but the teacher went through the content, it would amount to a breach of the student’s right to privacy. Furthermore, parents could also sign a waiver giving express authority for the teacher to have access to their children’s phones.
Any situation contrary to this amounts to an illegal search. Therefore, where no student has been placed in a grave situation or does any act contrary to a laid down rule and regulation, they can be reported when they forcefully search the content of their phone.
Teacher’s Responsibility Towards A Student Phone
A teacher has a right to seize a student’s phone but also has a lot of responsibilities towards the phone that is seized.
- It is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that the phone is kept in good shape and condition until it is returned to the student. Teachers must ensure that the phone does not go missing, hence they should keep these items in a safe locker/cabinet. Where the phone goes missing in the teacher’s care, the parent has a right to demand that such a phone be replaced by the school authority or the teacher.
- The teacher must return the phone: A teacher can keep a student’s phone for as long as they want so long it aids the safety of that child. It could be kept for a day and then returned the next day, while other teachers keep it for a week or the session. Sometimes, parents make demands that the phone is returned to their kids. Once the phone is returned, they are expected to not repeat that act of using phones. If found going against, it could lead to a higher punishment or suspension depending on how strict the disciplinary measures are in the school. Some will require the parent to sign an agreement that the student will not make use of the phone anymore, and where they go against these orders, whatever punishment will be dished out to them for going against this policy will be justified.
How Proper Is A Ban On Cellphones?
So many schools ban the use of phones within the school environment and students are usually informed beforehand. An agreement to be bound by the rules of the school is usually signed by the parents or guardians on behalf of their children, making the contract binding for both academic and safety reasons. Some schools go ahead to provide students with In-school phones, which provide limited usage and services such as phone calls between children and parents, e-learning aids and platforms, and limited internet access for research purposes. That being explained, you will agree with me that a ban on phone usage is proper and acceptable.
Actions That A Student Can Carry Out Where Their Privacy Has Been Violated
It might feel like a teacher is completely superior in authority, leaving the students incapable of taking any action when their rights are violated. This is not completely true as students can carry out some actions in case of violation.
Write to the school authority informing them of this violation
When it is in a school where phones are accepted, the school will immediately order that your phone is returned to you. Where it is in a school with limitations on the use of phones, once a student gives a convincing explanation of the reason why they were using the phone, their mistakes can be overlooked.
Contact the American Civil Liberties Societies
The American Civil Liberties Society is a non-profit organization that works to preserve individual rights whenever there is a breach of their rights. Where the situation is beyond your control, you can seek the help of the organization and they’ll be willing to do all they can to protect your right.
Any information that is taken from your phone without your consent should be deleted
There are instances where a teacher will want to exercise absolute powers and threaten that student, they will take private information from the phone of the student. A student can also demand that this information are deleted by making calls to important personalities in the school. Once the matter is taken up, they will ensure that the teacher puts away the incriminating Information used as a threat.
Steps by which a teacher can control the use of phones
A teacher can take certain steps to control the use of a phone in class and school by following certain steps which will put the use user subjection
- A teacher can make their student sign a Class-contract that will guide the use of their phones. Their parents/guardians could also read it so they’re aware of the contract their kids are getting into. Teachers should also clearly spell out their expectations.
- Give alternatives to the students: By giving alternatives to the students, you can help introduce problem-solving skills. When the student phone rings, as a result of the scenario card which the teacher will create, they’ll always take permission from you before using their phones. If they probably need to receive a call from their guardian they will take permission from you saying: “Please excuse me, my parents are calling me”. In this way, friendship, and respect are created between students and teachers.
- Creating a flexible approach: This flexible management approach creates a bridge between the use of the phone and situations where the phone becomes a hindrance to learning. This could be done by: For example, placing a card in the classroom to let them know when they can use their phones for the whole day, use it for a few minutes in the day, or be prohibited from using it for the whole day. This could be in the form of a red, yellow, or green card.
Arguments On Whether Or Not Phones Should Be Accepted In Schools
Over time, there have been various arguments as to whether or not a phone should be used or accepted in a classroom.
Most Gen-Z parents supported the use of phones because of their technological impacts. Since the world is revolving, with technology taking over the various sectors [with the educational sector inclusive] parents believe that the ban on phones is unnecessary as phones aid learning and teaching when it is used correctly. Technology has become a big part of the 21st century and an important tool to get digital aid. It is therefore important to structure the use of the telephone so students do not end up using it wrongly [that is, strictly keeping tab of the activities which are carried on it]
Others believe that phones can be distracting when it is used by students when lessons are ongoing, hence the reason why most schools cultivated regulations to govern the use of phones in school or completely refuse the use of phones in school.
What Action Is Taken Against Students Who Refuses To Submit Their Phones To The School/Teachers?
Schools could cultivate a no-phone policy, and any student caught will be asked to submit the phone to the school. Students who act stubbornly and refuse to submit the phone to the school will be brought before the disciplinary panel and disciplinary measures will be taken against them.
Rules relating to phone policy are determined from school to school, it is not universal or the same with all schools. While some schools welcome the use of phones within the school environment, other schools frown against it and spell out punishments for defaulters. Teachers can seize the phone of a student if it is causing distraction of any kind in the classroom or if it is in violation of the school policy. Furthermore, a teacher has the right to search through a confiscated phone under certain circumstances. Otherwise, they have no right to go through the content of any phone they seize – it must be returned to the student.
Frequently asked questions
- What action can be taken against a teacher who seizes a phone and accidentally destroys it?
Answer- When a teacher seizes a phone and it drops accidentally, they will have to fix the phone or the school will take responsibility for the replacement of that phone.
- Do teachers have a right to seize a student’s phone?
Answer- Yes. When a child is enrolled in school, the guardian/parent agrees that the school alongside their staff will stand in as the parent, taking proper care of the student’s education, behavior, and safety. Where any of the behavior prohibits the laid down standard of the school, punishment will be meted out to those children.
- Can a teacher who doesn’t personally teach me seize my phone?
Answer- Any staff within the school has a right to seize phones that disrupt any kind within the school environment.