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Cell phone search policy returns to Oak Harbor School Board

After capturing the headlines of media outlets statewide and stirring up local controversy, the telecommunication devices policy proposed by the Washington State School Directors’ Association is scheduled to be reviewed and possibly adopted by the Oak Harbor School District next week.

The policy, which was created to combat cyberbullying and sexting, allows school administrators to confiscate and search a student’s cell phone if they have a reasonable suspicion, based on objective and articulable facts, that such a search will reveal a violation of school rules.

Back in August, when the school board approved the second reading of the policy, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology and Liberty Project Director Brian Alseth sent a letter to Superintendent Rick Schulte that stated the policy infringed on students’ rights to privacy and asked that changes be made.

Since then, Alseth has worked with members of WSSDA to revise the policy. In an e-mail to WSSDA staff attorney Marilee Scarbrough, Alseth recently wrote, “I think the latest version of the policy reads very well and reflects most everything we discussed during our meeting. Institutionally I know we have issues with certain provisions of the policy, but, as we discussed, the policy is well in line with current legal standards.”

The policy will be reviewed for the third time by the school board at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 8 at the district office, 350 S. Oak Harbor St. The public is invited to attend.

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