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In Texas, the mother of an intermediate school student is suing the Klein Independent School District, claiming that the Assistant Principal illegally searched her daughter’s cell phone. According to the complaint, the intermediate student was showing a text message to a classmate when her phone was confiscated. After confiscation, the Assistant Principal discovered inappropriate images on the student’s cell phone, and the student was placed in an alternative program for “incorrigible behavior.”

District policy prohibits the use of cell phones and clearly states that cell phones used by students will be confiscated. Unfortunately, district policy does not mention anything about searching confiscated cell phones, nor does it appear to address the disciplinary consequences for improper use of the cell phones in violation of the policy. The complaint filed by the student’s mother in the District Court for the Southern District of Texas alleges that the Klein Independent School District was “grossly negligent and deliberately indifferent in its failure to develop, implement, teach and carry out policies, practices and procedures designed to prevent the employees of the District from engaging in unlawful searches and seizures.” The complaint highlights the need for clear policies concerning the use of cell phones in the school environment, including the need to communicate clearly to parents and students the potential consequences in the event of a violation of such policy. A copy of the complaint can be found by clicking here.