They Teach Civics In Tennessee, Right?

The Williamson Tennessee County Board of Education has adopted an “Acceptable Use, Media Release and Internet Safety Procedures” policy. It appears to be part of an effort to control student access to inappropriate online content.

That’s well and good, but according to a piece in Wired the policy may violate the First and Fourth Amendments. In fact, the Tennessee chapter of the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have sent a letter to the school board registering their concerns. Among those concerns is the part of the policy that allows school officials to collect and examine any device a student brings to school “for any… school related purpose.”  In other words, “because we feel like it.” 

That seems to conflict with court decisions which have permitted searches when there are reasonable grounds to suspect a student has broken the law or school rules. And even then, the search has to be “narrowly tailored.” The Tennessee policy is not narrowly tailored by any stretch. 

I was having dinner last night and talking about going to a grade school and being taught by nuns. 

And while we had no electronic devices, we also had no First Amendment protections. So, not only could Sister demand we empty our pockets, she could whack our knuckles if we were slow about it. But this was a private school, and that was the choice our parents made.

Public school students, however, have constitutional rights, and they don’t give them up when they walk into the school building (although the Tennessee policy also controls off campus internet use). The good people on the Williamson County School Board may want to take a look at the Constitution and re-think this policy. 

I know there are politicians in Tennessee who purport to support the Constitution:

But maybe instead of tilting at windmills, and attacking policies that are constitutional, they could go after real violations. Like this one.