How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask JB Umphrey Your Own Question
JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Attorney
Category: Education Law
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
Type Your Education Law Question Here...
JB Umphrey is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Is it illegal for a teacher to search my daughter's cell

This answer was rated:

Is it illegal for a teacher to search my daughter's cell phone messages after confiscating the phone? What about sending messages from my daughter's cell phone when she did not know about it? We have a record of texts being sent while the phone was confiscated.
Welcome and thank you for your question!

Please clarify: what is the school's policy relative to cell phones? Why was the phone seized?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The policy only states that they can take the phone. The first time it can be kept for one week. The phone is not suppose to be used during the school day. In this case, use was permitted but a teacher (this is a prep school) thought they saw something on the phone and took it. The phone was brought to the Dean's office and the Dean both went through it (and we later found out, actually sent 5 texts from the phone to another student). We found out from our cell records.

Thank you.

It is common practice for schools to have such "search" policies, including in the Boston area (e.g.,

While individuals may be caught off guard and deem it to be an invasion of privacy, to date, there has not been any law or court decision which says that such a search is an illegal invasion of privacy. There is nothing that says the contents of one's phone is legally private. This would explain why the ACLU never actually filed a lawsuit to challenge the school's policy.

I know that this is not what you wanted to hear but you deserve a candid answer. I wish very much that I could offer you an answer that was more favorable to your circumstances, but the law seems to be pretty clear. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

I hope you understand.

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied. No expert can promise you an answer that is favorable to your circumstances. But I will do my very best to explain the legal principles that are related to the facts you’ve described so that you can better understand the “why” of things.

What are your options now?

If you wish to continue this conversation, click on the Replyf tab.
If you are satisfied that I have answered your question, then please rate the answer with “excellent service” so that I receive credit for assisting you. Positive ratings are the only way I receive credit for assisting you today.

IF you feel the need to click either
"Helped a little" or "I expected more," then do not rate me (not yet, anyway!). Instead, reply to me using the REPLY tab. Specify what additional information you need and I will be happy to continue further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek.

~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Actually, I'm more concerned about the second part of the question, which is "can they send text messages from the phone without my daughter's knowledge or permission"? She was not even at the school when this was done.

Thanks, J.B.

Thank you for the follow-up. There is no law which prohibits the actions you've described.

It may be unprofessional and you can file a complaint against the teacher with the school.

However, is there anything that one can sue over? No. Why not? Because no law was violated by those actions and, as a matter of practicality, there are no damages from such actions (e.g., there's no legal injury).

I hope this helps to clarify things!

~~ J.B.
JB Umphrey and 2 other Education Law Specialists are ready to help you