Today, the growing concern about drugs and violence in schools often trumps students’ privacy rights. Federal courts have found that students’ Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizure do no always apply in a public school setting. The ACLU believes that schools are not constitutional dead zones, and continues to fight for students’ privacy rights, challenging unreasonable strip-searches, electronic monitoring, and searches and seizures of property such as cell phones.
Schools collect a wealth of information on students. Some of this—such as grades, discipline problems, and household income—makes sense for educators to collect and can be vital to the protection of civil rights. Some—such as pregnancy, mental health, victimization, and criminal histories—is excessive. But under proposed rules from the Obama administration, all of it is about to be shared much more widely. The ACLU of New Hampshire is committed to protecting students’ constitutional rights, including privacy, and free speech.