Assertive, Intelligent Representation For Public & Private Entities

Cell phones bring new legal challenges to school districts

School is very different now than it was for previous generations. One of the biggest changes in today’s schools has been the integration of new technology. Teachers, school administrators and parents have had to adapt to the presence of technology in the classroom–for better or worse. Technology can be a helpful tool in the classroom, but its use can have unexpected complications.

One example of this is when students use cell phone cameras to record school activity. This form of surveillance could have serious legal ramifications for public school districts.

Take a recent case out of Simi Valley, California. A student recorded a video of three classmates getting into a violent altercation. One boy had apparently posted something about the others on social media, and the other two students responded by punching him and stomping on him. The video spread on social media like wildfire and was soon picked up by local newspapers and television stations.

When incidents like this occur, school districts must deal not only with the students, but also their parents and their lawyers. Running a public school district is challenging enough without the constant threat of litigation. Whether the parents of the boys involved in the altercation will pursue legal action remains to be seen, but lawsuits are certainly not unheard of.

If someone does choose to file suit against the school, both sides will have the evidence of the cell phone video. Video evidence in a lawsuit can be a double-edged sword, providing protection for the school district or ammunition for the opposing party’s attorneys, depending on the case.

Technology in schools certainly has its benefits, but it comes with drawbacks as well. With cameras and recording technology at any staff member or students’ finger tips, it looks like technology could play a role in the courtroom as well as the classroom.