ACLU Contests Cell Phone Policy at Colorado High School


The American Civil Liberties Union last month challenged the actions of the Monarch High School in Lafayette, CO, after school administrators confiscated a sophomore's cell phone after a school security officer accused him of smoking and parking in the wrong lot.

In a letter to the Boulder Valley District Board of Education, the ACLU said the administrators also improperly transcribed "incriminating" messages found on the student's phone.

The Boulder Valley School District has defended the Monarch administrators' actions as an "investigation into possible student misconduct," according to a report in the Rocky Mountain News.

In its letter, the ACLU said, "Monarch administrators could not be more wrong. Students do have rights of privacy, and those rights are protected not only by the state and federal constitutions, but also by Colorado statutes that carry serious criminal penalties. The actions of Monarch administrators have violated these Colorado criminal statutes and the constitutional rights of Monarch students."

The school district issued a statement supporting Monarch and its administrators. "Prior to confiscating the students' cellular phones and transcribing text messages found on them, Monarch administrators contacted the BVSD legal counsel's office and were told it was indeed legal for them to take the actions that they were considering," wrote district spokesman Briggs Gamblin.

However, Gamblin said the district will review the incident "and the district's position" because it "takes very seriously the civil liberties of each of its more than 28,000 students."

To read ACLU letter, visit


Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at [email protected].

About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.