Father meets with investigators after son’s cell phone is confiscated, searched

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BERNE, N.Y. – A Berne Knox Westerlo student's cell phone was confiscated by a teacher,
but his family says the principal was out of bounds when he went
through its contents and found inappropriate pictures.

The 14-year-old's father met on Friday with sheriff's investigators.

How far can a principal go in searching through a student's cellphone? That question went unanswered for Jeff Haas and his 14-year old son Friday.

“Right now we were looking to resolve the legal issues with my son around that case. We did not discuss the principal or school to me it's a separate issue,” said Haas.

An issue Haas says still needs to looked at very closely after he felt his sons privacy was violated

‘It's private — just as a diary it's personal they are hand held computer not telephones,” said Haas.

In the district code of conduct there is a section on student searches and interrogations.

It states the board authorizes principals “to conduct searches of students and their belongings if the authorized school official has reasonable suspicion to believe that the search will result in evidence that the student violated the law or the district code of conduct.”

“I guess that's the gray area but since I've looked into this there's no other schools doing it, I think they understand its wrong,” said Haas.

Haas says there wasn't enough probable cause for the search and that accessing personal files on cellphones should be off limits.

“He's the principal — he's there to make sure they get a good education not to pry through personal records,” said Haas.

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