While well intentioned, a proposed “sexting policy” for the Meridian School District may be better suited for law enforcement. As written, the policy is constitutionally intrusive with potentially illegal searches into student telephones and communication devices.
Rather than the following proposed policy, the District may be better served to have a simple policy stating, “If you send or keep dirty pictures we will call the cops and notify your parents.”
Here is the proposed policy:
Definition of sexting: Sexting is the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images or video via a cell phone or electronic device.
1. The possession of sexually explicit images of minors on any device is prohibited.
2. Students involved in sexting (unless they immediately delete the images) may be subject to discipline.
3. Students involved in sexting will have their parents informed and may have police involved in the case.
4. Cell phones will be searched if there is probable cause that a criminal violation has occurred, and may be searched if reasonable suspicion exists that the phone contains evidence of a violation.
5. Any form of harassment related to sexting is strictly forbidden.
The GUARDIAN contacted Boise lawyer John Runft who has a background in constitutional law. He found item#4 to be “troublesome,” noting that teachers and administrators would be placed in a position of acting as police.
“Anything can be searched if there is probable cause and a judge issues a warrant,” said Runft, adding, “Criminal violations are the responsibility of police and it would be reasonable to direct school staff to call police if they suspect a student possesses a device with illegal material on it.”
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