The Board of Education recently adopted a strict new policy aimed at preventing sexting in Troy schools.
"It was just a matter of being proactive and recognizing that unfortunately across the United States with the proliferation of communication devices and social media, it's … only a matter of time before this may occur," Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Rich Machesky told The Detroit News.
The new policy forbids "sending, sharing viewing or merely possessing sexually explicit digital pictures, messages, text messages, emails or other material of a sexual nature in electronic form or other form on a computer, cell phone or other electronic device" while on school property or while attending school-sponsored events.
But it goes one step further, allowing the schools to take action if they suspect a student of sexting, including confiscating and searching the student's electronic device.
"Students and their parents/guardians are hereby placed on notice that in any suspected investigation of a sexting incident, a school official may search a student’s cell phone, computer or other electronic device if reasonable suspicion exists that a student has been involved in sexting," reads the policy. "All evidence and electronic devices shall be turned-over to the appropriate law enforcement agency, and will not be retained by the district."
A student suspected of texting may face disciplinary action, and the students' parents may be contacted. Also, if warranted, "the school shall report the suspected activity to the appropriate authorities related to suspected child abuse or neglect."
Students who violate the next texting policy face disciplinary action, "including losing the privilege of bringing the device onto school property" and "a report being made to law enforcement."
The new policy has raised concerns with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, including how broadly it defines materials of a sexual nature, according to a report from CBS Detroit.
The group’s legal director, Michael Stienberg, told CBS Detroit that sexting usually involves kids being careless or irresponsible, and that the students aren’t criminals and “shouldn’t be treated that way.”
To read the entire text of the sexting policy, please see the attached PDF file.