Hudsonville, MI asked in Education Law for Michigan

Q: Can a school take your phone, and search it without asking. Nor having a warrant.

Asking for a friend, their phone was taken and searched to remove a video containing a school fight that was happening. They first took their phone and then my friend grabbed their phone back and started arguing with the Assistant Principle. Was this justified or should there be farther actions taken into account. I think that it would be a Unlawful Search and Seizure, due to the Fourth Amendment protecting them from unreasonable searches and seizures, but my school policy says that school authorities may search a student and/or the student's personal effects in the student's possession when there is a reasonable suspicion that the search will produce evidence that the particular student had violated either a law or the school policy. Hudsonville High School prohibits the possession or use of personal electronic devices within the school building during class periods. But it was during Lunch B.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: The 4th amendment has nothing to do with this since it wasn't law enforcement who took the phone. When you are a student in a school - even a public school - you do not have the same constitutional protections you otherwise would have outside of school. Schools can set policies and confiscate phones; they can open and search lockers, backpacks, etc., they can prohibit the wearing of certain clothing or display of sayings or symbols.

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