Searches of students’ cell phone text messages

ACLU Case No. 2007-09


Administrators at Louisville’s Monarch High School were seizing students’ cell phones, reading text messages, and transcribing messages the administrators deemed incriminating. Responding to complaints from students and parents, the ACLU wrote to the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education, asserting that the non-consensual searches violated students’ right of privacy. In addition to relying on the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, the letter relied on a Colorado criminal statute designed to protect the privacy of telephone and electronic communications.

The letter was followed by a series of meetings and communications between ACLU attorneys and attorneys representing the school district. The district decided that except in emergencies, future searches of students’ cell phones would require consent from the student or parent as well as individualized reasonable suspicion.


Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director
Michael Rollin
Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney

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