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Posted at 1:46 PM ET, 11/24/2010

Cuccinelli: Teachers okay to confiscate cellphones, read texts

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

A warning to the school children of Virginia: Yes, your teacher can confiscate your cellphone or laptop computer.

That's according to a legal opinion issued Wednesday by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R), who found that teachers can not only take the devices, but they can review text messages or e-mails if they have "reasonable suspicion" that students have been violating the law or school rules.

He issued the opinion in response to a request from Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Charlottesville), who inquired whether teachers can take cellphones in instances where other students have complained they were victims of cyberbullying.

Cuccinelli also opined that if a teacher finds sexually explicit material on a student's cellphone that involves minors (say, the student was "sexting" with the phone), the teacher should turn those photos over to law enforcement.

Sharing the photos with other teachers or with the school principal -- even if for purposes of disciplining the students involved -- could get the teacher in trouble for distributing child pornography, Cuccinelli writes. (He notes that nothing prevents teachers from discussing what they saw on a cellphone with a principal.)

You can read the whole opinion here.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | November 24, 2010; 1:46 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

Looks like Mr Va AG has gone off his meds again. He says teachers can seaze and search student laptops and cell phones "if they have "reasonable suspicion" that students have been violating the law or school rules".
Maybe he has never heard of that part of the Constitution that protects citizens against unreasonable searches. Now if the school system gave the students the laptops and cell phones they can say they have the right to seaze and inspect the items. As these laptops and cell phones are private property I can't see how the VaAG can give teachers powers law enforcement require a warrent to get. Look for the ACLU to get involved and this bit of nonsense to go away soon.

Somebody please force feed the VaAG his meds!

Posted by: Jimof1913 | November 24, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Residents of the state of Virgina can continue to relish in the men they elected as AG and Gov and the very conservative element of life they represent. The AG's intent is to take the state back to the days of men only ruling and voting and thus having rights with women and children on the sidelines and in time having only one very fundamental religious sect to worship to and in.

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | November 24, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

It's ironic, Tea Bagger darling wants government to be more intrusive...I thought that was against their platform. Oh, I forgot..they don't have a platform just goin' rogue fits them...

Posted by: bam1969 | November 24, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I think that's ridiculous that teachers have the right to go through a student's cell phone, it is a total invasion of privacy. it's a cell phone in a classroom, it's not drugs accross the border. Teachers and principals are taking it too far, it's not illegal contriban

Posted by: willdj2001 | November 24, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

This is not a good piece of work. The area of law is very far from settled and the AG includes enough caveats to make the opinion useless. Any school official about to seize a student's phone and read prior messages would be well advised to get real legal advice before doing so.

Posted by: kipper72 | November 24, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

It is no different than seeing two girls passing a note to each other and then seizing the note and reading it. Teachers have been doing that for 100 years.

Posted by: MKadyman | November 24, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Herr Cuckoo-nelli is taking a page from the Nazi handbook with all these "opinions" he has been issuing. Whats next..getting rid of all the blacks and Jews in the state?

Posted by: glasgowafb | November 24, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Kookoonelli strikes again.

Posted by: solsticebelle | November 24, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

You liberal pinheads need to get your heads out of your rear ends. Our school systems are failing because of you. It is you that have put the fear in the entire educational system to have any discipline whatsoever. The kids have no respect for anybody, and it is your fault!

I imagine that this is how you think:
"Lets let the kids do whatever the hell they want to do! Let them threaten each other, and the teachers also while they are at it. Let them talk back, refuse to do anything, cheat (because it is normal), and then, if they ever do get in any trouble, sue the teachers and the school to Fight the Power."

This is why Virginia is starting to vote conservative, because they are tired of you ruining this country with the crap you spew.

Posted by: OhWell5 | November 25, 2010 2:25 AM | Report abuse

Time for absolute separation of school and state. Controversy solved.

Posted by: thebump | November 25, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Taking away a cell phone from a combative student during class (as long as it is returned after class) is fine. We don't need an AG proclamation on this. Cell phones can be disruptive. I know, I am a teacher. However, looking at content on someone else's confiscated cell phone is crossing legal boundaries. Reasonable suspicion can mean just about anything. Good luck defending your teachers Mr. Cuccinelli.

Why is our AG strongly advocating strict adherence to the US Constitution one minute then throwing basic constitutional rights out the window the next? This seems wildly inconsistent to me.

Posted by: gfoster56 | November 25, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Comments read as though only one commenter read the AG opinion, even though it was readily available. Ms. Helderman has again done a nice job of getting most of you all ginned up by providing an unbalanced editorial of the opinion. The one that I refer to is not the teacher, whom I believe did not read the AG opinion. The AG opinion which presents Constitutional issues and case law precendents is easily contrasted with the teacher's opinion and many others here i.e. a legal opinion vs uninformed opinion.

Posted by: BruceFairfax | November 25, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Yaaaawn....Old news!!

We knew that in VA already.

Posted by: usc932000 | November 25, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

That's good, get em while they're young and teach them their rights only matter if they're wealthy and Christian.

Posted by: Nymous | November 25, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and gentlemen, our children, once put on a bus or dropped off at scool are in the custodial care of said school. The property and belongings they bring with them are subject to be confiscated a searched through for the safety and welfare of the students. Nothing says you can't have your children leave the personal belongings at home to be free from the scool staffs pervue. The responsibility of the educators to protect our children is an extension of the parents resposibilities at home. Noone can tell me they don't review there childrens internet or text histories to make sure they aren't doing anything unlawful or immoral. New technology doesn't change the rules of passing notes or cornering a kid out back of school to pick on them.

as a

Posted by: mls288 | November 27, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Hey, guys, I want to recommend you a PC cleaner, the software "tuneup360". It's very easy to handle and of course very powerful, you can have try, I'm sure it can improve your computer performance.

Posted by: spotmau2010 | November 29, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

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