This “new” policy regarding no recording at Halifax County Public Schools isn’t new at all.
When I was in high school between 2005-2009, we weren’t even allowed to use cell phones at all during school.
We all had them, and we all snuck to use them behind our books in class, but we knew if we were caught, it could be taken away, and we could possibly be given a disciplinary notice.
Last week, the high school announced on its Facebook page that they would no longer allow recording on school property.
Even though I spoke with Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg on Sunday, I apparently didn’t do all of my due diligence.
It clearly states in the student handbook for the high school “Students should not use cellular phones or other devices to record anything or anyone without authorization while on school property or at school events.”
See, it already was a school policy.
But, regardless of how the cell policy is written, it’s a losing battle.
There’s nothing these kids are using their phones for besides “personal conversations” and social media.
And, it’s going to be very hard for anyone to see if and when a student is recording.
But, as the superintendent said, it changes the game when they post it.
As far as I can remember, it has been against school policy to record fights. When I was in school, if anyone was caught recording a fight, they’d be in trouble too.
It’s nothing new.
Recently, an adult roamed the halls of the high school recording students to prove a point and posted it to Facebook.
I’ll be honest I never watched the video.
But, it is my understanding he wanted to prove the administration is cherry picking how they enforce rules.
Legally, Virginia is a one-party consent state meaning as long as one party to the conversation consents, you may record a conversation.
Federal law also allows recording meetings involving a child’s eligibility or IEP and/or to review discipline matters.
However, in the same token, it states a “school division may have policies that prohibit, limit or otherwise regulate the use of video recording devices at meetings…”
But, we’re not talking about meetings, we’re talking about the ability to record in the halls, in the classrooms in the cafeteria during a school day.
In 2016, a Massaponax High School student in Fredericksburg was threatened with a five-day suspension for recording his principal.
He argued it was his First Amendment right, but his principal argued he had the authority to regulate cell phone use in his building.
PINAC, or Photography is Not a Crime, an organization focused on rights of civilians who photograph and film police and other government organizations in the U.S., sided with the student saying the video and audio recording on public school grounds is protected under the First Amendment.
The ruling of Pollack v. Region 1 School Unit sided with a Maine middle-school student saying he had the right to wear a recording device at school.
But, that was in Maine, and he was a special education student protected under ADA laws.
Meanwhile, the 1969 ruling in Tinker V. Des Moines Independent Community School said while the First Amendment rights protect student expression, school authorities may prohibit or punish speech if they determine it will imminently lead to a material and substantial disruption.
So legally, the answer of whether or not a student should be allowed to record is still murky.
Regardless, I believe there is no use for recording fights in school, and that’s what the majority of these videos are.
Some say the fighting videos are helpful when it comes time to discipline or if it becomes a legal matter, and that may be so.
However, Virginia Code 8.01-420.2 says no recording will be admitted into evidence unless “all parties to the conversation were aware the conversation was being recorded.”
Regardless, during the school day those videos are being circulated from one student to another causing disruptions in the school, stirring up more drama and oftentimes doing nothing but leading to more fights.
Other videos are out there, of course, of school conditions, but the conditions of the schools are no secret.
Videos also have been recorded of roaches, mold and just simply a mess in the halls. Anyone can ask to tour the school and see these conditions for themselves.
As for that video the adult recorded, the more concerning aspect and what the real conversation should be focused on, in my opinion, is how was he able to freely roam the building in the first place.
Someone should have made sure he entered the building, completed whatever he needed to do and then left.
No one made sure he left.
Then as he proceeded to roam the halls, it appears no one stopped him to ask who he was and what he was doing there.
That is the real story here.