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Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 100571
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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CAN THE VICE PRINCIPAL OF A HIGH SCHOOL SEARCH MY PHONE HELD

Customer Question

CAN THE VICE PRINCIPAL OF A HIGH SCHOOL SEARCH MY PHONE HELD BY MY DAUGHTER WITHOUT NOTIFYING ME?
JA: Because education law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: cALIFORNIA
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: NOTHING SHE WAS CLEARED OF WRONG DOING, I JUST FEEL AS THOUGH I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRESENT AS IT IS MY PHONE.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: NO
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 2 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times.

The school stands in loco parentis, meaning that it has most of a parent's powers while the student is under the school's care. And the school shares, in matters of school discipline, the parent's right to use moderate force to obtain obedience as well as perform searches of students' items. See In re Donaldson, 269 Cal. App. 2d 509 - Cal: Court of Appeal 1969.

While no case precedent discusses phones in California specifically, the courts have okay'd the schools searching lockers and bag packs as long as it was for purposes of discipline and maintaining order. Even if the cell was yours, the school will likely try to justify that the search the phone for improper text messages and photos as part of school discipline.

Is this taking it too far? Maybe. However the Court has not yet made a precedent decisions about this in CA, leaving this subjective. The presumption is that it was proper(under justification of discipline) until/unless you challenge this in Court, and the Court agrees.

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