Lee County School District Potential Search Without Warrant Policy

The Lee County School Board addressed concerns about a proposal that will let employees search students’ electronic devices.The Lee County School District intends to create a more safe school environment.

Under the current policy, the school has the right to search a student’s locker and personal property. After comparing the “updated” policy to the current one, we found that they added cell phones and other electronic devices to the list of items subjected to search without a warrant.

There’s no doubt parents want to feel their kids are safe when they go to school, but moms and dads also don’t want their kid’s privacy violated.

“If it compromises the safety or the operation of the building, then you have the responsibility as the administrator to make sure you do your due diligence.”

stated Lee County Superintendent Christopher Bernier.

“I can see where they would want to look through it. My only fear would be the information in the phone. There’s private things for families.”

Judith Donlan, a parent to a Lee County student, said.

“You can’t give up freedoms for security.”

Kevin Jones, a parent to a Lee County student, said.

Section 4.03 is the Search and Seizure portion of the Lee County School’s code of conduct, which states that a student’s personal belongings are subject to search without a warrant. It states in part that school personnel may conduct a search of a student, a student’s possessions, a student’s locker, or any other storage area on school property.Including a cell phone and other electronic devices without a warrant when school personnel has a reasonable suspicion that illegal, prohibited, harmful items or substances or stolen property may be concealed.

So exactly what is considered suspicious?

“It doesn’t really outline who will be making the determination of reasonable suspicion.”

Attorney Scot Goldberg said.

“It’s only done on cases of reasonable suspicion, we never randomly search backpacks or cell phones.”

Dr. Bernier said.

And if you ask parents, most that WINK News spoke with are not willing to let you search their child’s phone without having permission first.

“They need my permission first before they do something concerning my kid.”

said RC Smith, a father with a child that attends a school in the Lee County School District.

“Parents got to be involved.”

Jones said.

The school board plans to talk about the draft of its new student code of conduct at its meeting on Wednesday. Something important to note is when students and parents sign the code of conduct at the start of every school year, the district sees that as everyone has read and understands what’s in it.

The next step is for the proposal to be heard for public comment and then the board will vote.

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