ERIC Number: EJ982526
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Regulating Conduct in New Frontiers
Uhler, Scott F.; Smith, Gregory T.
Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v77 n8 p47-52 Apr 2012
As Internet-based communications and interactions by and between students and school staff become more prevalent, an appreciation of school rules for student behavior is important. Students carry electronic devices, sending and receiving communications inside and outside school, so two key questions exist regarding search and seizure of such devices: (1) What are the limits on a school's authority to search or seize student property relative to sexting and/or cyberbullying?; and (2) To what extent can a school regulate off-campus sexting and cyberbullying when it relates to students? Foundational legal principles in this area were established by the U.S. Supreme Court decades ago in "Tinker v. Des Moines," when the court confirmed that students enjoy certain constitutional protections while at school. When investigating potential student misconduct relative to sexting and cyberbullying, schools must still operate within the parameters of the Constitution regarding due process, free speech, and search and seizure rights. When the seriousness or shocking nature of a student's misconduct online affects other students or school staff, it makes the misconduct difficult to ignore. But certain limits exist on school authority to regulate off-campus behaviors or to conduct lawful searches. Schools are charged with addressing bullying or harassing behaviors (including cyberbullying) under recent amendments to the Illinois School Code. And according to a "Dear Colleague Letter" from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) dated October 26, 2010, a school that does nothing (if it has the authority to act) could run afoul of the civil rights laws that OCR enforces. The Illinois Legislature also has created new statutes imposing criminal sanctions for cyberstalking and prohibitions on sexting by minors. This means schools need to balance both the need to understand students' rights and protections in this area, while taking reasonable, lawful steps to assure that students and staff are not being victimized.
Descriptors: Students, Handheld Devices, Ownership, Search and Seizure, Student Rights, Student School Relationship, Telecommunications, Sexual Harassment, Bullying, Administrative Principles, Legal Responsibility, School Law, Civil Rights, Civil Rights Legislation, Student Behavior, Administrator Behavior, Court Litigation, Decision Making, Ambiguity (Context)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; New York; United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Fourth Amendment