Constitutional challenges to limits on the possession and/ or use of cell phones in schools present potential claims involving the Fourth Amendment rights of students to privacy and to be free from unreasonable searchesalong with parental Fourteenth Amendment Liberty Clauserights to direct the education and upbringing of their children. However, as reflected in this article, as long as educational officials enact policies in line with state laws that are explicitly designed to enhance school safety, challenges filed by students and their parents are probably destined to fail because constitutional claims are likely to be outweighed by concerns for the greater good as courts defer to the legitimate authority of educators to maintain safe and orderly learning environments. Regardless of how they are used, there can be no doubt that the proliferation of cell phones raises an array of legal concerns for educational leaders and their attorneys as they seek to place reasonable limits on their possession and use by students in schools. As common as cell phones are in schools, the amount of litigation over their status is, surprisingly, relatively limited. As such, Section II of this commentary reviews the case law to date in which student possession and/ or use of cell phones in schools was the primary focus of the litigation; these cases serve as background in the debate over whether cell phones are necessary tools in educational activities or needless distractions. Section III examines the constitutional issues raised by students and their parents when they challenge statutes or school board policies concerning the possession and/ or use of cell phones in schools. Section IV offers policy recommendations on the status of cell phones in schools and a brief conclusion.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ralph_mawdsley/58/