Asked in Gov & Administrative Law and Education Law for Michigan

Q: Are they violating state and First admendment?

child’s school threatened to suspended my daughter if she brings the recording I provided to her to record her school day as there are issues going on. I discovered that a teacher disciplined my daughter wrongly after two students claimed she said they were stupid and dead. She was put on the wall during recess for this. When contacted the school, they confiscated the device and threatened suspension claiming the recording device is like a cell phone. That’s funny. Michigan is a 1 party state my daughter is a minor and can’t consent. I consented on her behalf and don’t need permission to record conversations between my kid and others. Next isn’t it a first amendment violation to threatened punishment for recording school official who’s paid for by tax dollars?

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

A: You need to realize that schools - like jails and other secured facilities - are not public free-for-all spaces. Because they have care and concern for children, school administrators may make rules, policies, and procedures that otherwise affect Constitutional rights. As examples, schools can implement uniform policies - telling kids (and parents) what they can wear; schools can also punish swearing and indecent language. And increasingly common nowadays, schools can prohibit students from possessing or using cell phones and other recording devices. Your first amendment rights and statutory right to record conversations do not extend into a school building.

Another consideration is that assuming this is a public school, there are immunity issues that could prevent you from taking legal action. If you are not pleased with what a local school official is doing, you should seek to address it with district administrators.

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