Here’s why students need cellphones in school. To call their lawyers.

Sometimes, a news story can be short and still tell you all you need to know.

That is the case with this story from the Athens Banner-Herald: (Some good comments on the newspaper’s website from readers.)

An Oconee County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Oconee County High School Thursday for a student possessing alcohol, but the officer arrived to find the student already on the phone with his lawyer.

When the student hung up, he told the deputy another student gave him the bottle of Seagram’s gin, then he declined to take a portable breath test and refused to answer any questions without his lawyer present, the deputy said. The student was charged with underage possession of alcohol and was removed from school grounds.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

60 comments Add your comment

Principal Skinner

March 15th, 2013
2:24 pm

We’re not that far away from teachers being sued for reflecting the grade that the student earned


March 15th, 2013
2:25 pm

My 13 yr old is the only one in her class that doesn’t own a phone. Just not necessary.


March 15th, 2013
2:27 pm


Nice break from the liberal based blogging.

Just Sayin.....

March 15th, 2013
2:54 pm

I, frankly, am looking for the point in this blog. Is it something about calling the police to the school for alcohol possession (in my day, the school would have called the parent)? Is it something about a cellphone? Is it about the kid having an attorney? Is it about the kid calling his/her attorney instead of the parent?


March 15th, 2013
3:00 pm

Criminalizing normal adolescent misbehavior? No. Firm, consistent consequences? Yes.


March 15th, 2013
3:01 pm

I like it. The kid actually had a lawyer.

Then there are the situations when a school employee freaks out over a charm on a bracelet in the shape of a pistol, or a kid has a 3 inch brave bassballbat on a key ring and the kids get suspended for it.

Let the kids have pagers and phones and let them use them responsibly.
Resoponsibility is learned.

Claudia Stucke

March 15th, 2013
3:06 pm

Maureen, while I was teaching high school in DeKalb County, we were told that our students must be allowed access to their phones because of events such as 9/11 and Columbine–students were just supposed to keep their phones turned off during class time, a rule that most students ignore. (Supposedly this was/is from the Georgia state legislature; but none of us actually checked it out, because parents insisted that their children have their phones at school, and county administration backed the parents.)

Some students text test answers to each other and take pictures of tests; and thanks to the proliferation of smart phones, they can even search the internet for responses to essay questions. (Yes, we monitor and proctor tests and other classroom activities; but with our increasingly large student/teacher ratios, this is becoming more and more difficult.) Student phones are supposed to be turned off and out of sight, but this is a hard rule to enforce. I have been cursed out by more than one parent for taking up a child’s phone during class. Once, when a student was actually talking on the phone during class, I asked him to relinquish it and told him that I’d be speaking with his mother. He said, “She’s right here–want to talk to her?” She had called him during class! When I spoke with her, saying that she must not have realized that her son was actually in class, she told me unapologetically that she had to speak with him–about a trivial matter that could have waited until the end of the day, it turned out. While this was an unusual situation, it’s much more common for parents to text their children during class with messages about after-school transportation or “Honey, I brought your lunch. Meet me in the parking lot.”

Now, here’s the most shocking issue of all: At a faculty meeting, our principal warned us not to give a confiscated phone back to the student but rather to the parent. (We had a system in place for this.) Apparently, if the student has “inappropriate” photographs stored in the phone, and the teacher takes up and later returns the phone directly to the student, the teacher has just “distributed pornography to a minor.” Never mind that the teacher doesn’t know the images are there and nothing to do with them.

I think the cell phone is a great invention; I don’t know what I would do without mine. But they are a genuine headache in the classroom.

lester brown

March 15th, 2013
3:13 pm

The student had a right to do what he did………don’t get it twisted……there are some wonderful teachers and there are some teachers/administrators that suck……….so if excercising a lawful right scares you…….then you must be doing something wrong !!


March 15th, 2013
3:26 pm

Schools shoud steal them at every opportunity and immediately upload everything on it to cyberspace,—the phone problem will solve itself.


March 15th, 2013
3:28 pm

When I was in school, many years ago, a paddling in the Principal’s office was followed by another one at home.

Now, a paddling in the Principal’s office results in lawyers swarming like locusts and suing everyone in sight.

Much of what is wrong with the American school system can be explained by this 180 degree change in our social policy.


March 15th, 2013
3:42 pm

I know times change, but “back in the day” our coach would have torn that little smart alek’s butt up, and then he would have gotten another one at home. I’m not talking all this physical abuse one reads about……I’m talking about a good old fashioned butt whoopin’ that the schools used to do.


March 15th, 2013
3:43 pm

Much of what is wrong with the American school system can be explained by this 180 degree change in our social policy.

Or that we’ve graduated a whole lot of lawyers without enough real work to do.

Devil's Advocate

March 15th, 2013
3:45 pm

Claudia Stucke,

I am aware of the policy to return phones to parents but I had no idea that was the specific reason why. I just figured it was because phones are so valuable and it’s good to touch base with the parent for its return. WOW!

I wonder why schools cannot fight that reasoning. I’d argue the use of the term “distribution” in that context. “Distribution” suggests spreading, sharing, supplying, providing and passively suggests a change of ownership via some sort of transaction. If the teacher does not own the phone (or the content) how can it be a case of “distribution” to return a student’s property?

This is one of those cases where teachers are not being allowed to properly enforce the rules within their classrooms when they have to worry about BS litigation and potential charges. What a sad state of affairs we find ourselves.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

March 15th, 2013
3:53 pm

I doubt the student has a job that can afford to pay a 300/hour mouthpiece. Another case of a wealthy parent sheltering their child from the lessons he will have to learn once he becomes an adult. It would not surprise me if the parent of this spoiled brat is a lawyer and the lawyer he called was his parent or someone in the same firm. Now little Johnny – if you did not bring enough lawyers to share with the rest of the class………………..

Claudia Stucke

March 15th, 2013
3:53 pm

@Devil’s Advocate: I think you right that returning the phone to the parent is always a good idea. As a parent, I’d want to know if my child had been using the phone in class; and the phone is a valuable piece of property, and we don’t want it to go missing. These alone are reason enough to return the phone to the parent. The legal technicality is just absurd.

Claudia Stucke

March 15th, 2013
3:54 pm

Correction–you’re, not you. (Sorry)


March 15th, 2013
3:55 pm

When I was in high school in the 70’s and got into minor trouble with some senior antics the last week of school (a friend left to get McDonald’s food and brought it back to campus for my friends and I), we were spotted with the bags and went to the Assistant Principal’s office. Leaving the campus was not allowed during the school day. We did not initially say who brought the food onto campus. The assistant principal called my Mom and when I was on the phone with her, she simply stated “tell the truth”. We were all students who had not broken any rules previously, and our punishment was just a “talking to” by the assistant principal, which was all we needed at the time.

Nowadays, many parents tell their kids to “clam up” and not say anything, and to deny everything. I have no doubt that this teenager called his or her parent first, who then facilitated the lawyer. I am sure the parents are paying for the lawyer and I would guess that that is how the teenager got hooked up by phone. Many parents shield their child from “any and all consequences” to their behavior. This is why we have so many young men who feel “entitled” to behave badly without fear of consequences. It is shocking that one out of four girls and women experience rape or sexual abuse in their lifetime. “One out of four” of your sisters, daughters, mothers. These incidents often involve alcohol as well. We need to re-focus on teaching our sons appropriate behavior by letting them experience consequences. And, we also need to teach boys how to respect girls.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

March 15th, 2013
4:04 pm

At first I wondered what is the connection between a kid calling his lawyer from school and girls getting raped. And then it occurred to me that must have been what the gin was intended for.


March 15th, 2013
4:24 pm

What parent allows their child to call lawyers?

Retired HS English Teacher

March 15th, 2013
4:25 pm

@ Just Sayin: This is another example of the inmates running the asylum, and why it is now very hard for the best teachers to recommend our beloved profession to any young person.

Maybe they shouldn't have called the cops in the first place

March 15th, 2013
4:45 pm

Let me start by saying that I am totally against students having cell phones in class. To expect them to keep their phones turned off during class, if they have the phone on them, is absurd. Students should not be allowed to have cell phones in the classroom for all the reasons listed above and more.


Does it strike anyone else as odd that the first response of school administrators was to call the police?

Was the studentbeing combative or belligerent? Did they fear for their own or other people’s safety? No? Then why were the cops called?

It just seems bizarre that the school principal would run crying to the police to handle an in-school discipline problem. Suspension? Most definitely. Arrest?!?! Well, no, because that is total overkill.

I think the student was in the right on this one. I’m glad he had the phone, and I’m glad that he was able to get good legal advice on how to handle a bad situation.

The school administrators are the ones whose behavior was waaay out of line here – students bring booze to school, it happens, there should be procedures for it that don’t involve wasting the time of law enforcement. What a bunch of incompetent buffoons, that they can’t even handle the tiniest infraction without calling in the FBI.

This isn’t a cell phones in schools issue at all – it’s an example of how out of control school administrators are, and how stupid and irresponsible ‘zero tolerance’ policies really are. They’re just upset that they got outplayed at their own little game.


March 15th, 2013
4:52 pm

You just have to read up on the current Steubenville, Ohio rape case to see how teenage boys and alcohol ties in with girls getting raped. If you have seen any of the video that teenagers took of this incident, you will see that they felt quite free and entitled to inflict harm. Combine alcohol mis-use with a belief that Mommy or Daddy (or their lawyer) will “bail them out” of trouble just creates more boorish behavior. If there are no consequences for alcohol incidents such as the one mentioned on this blog, or if parents impede those consequences, you are just asking for more trouble down the line. These parents misguidedly feel they have to “protect” little Johnny’s record, at all costs, so as not to interfere with their college/career plan they have mapped out for their child.


March 15th, 2013
5:22 pm

As a high school teacher phones in the classroom are a major factor in preventing students from mastering standards. Students today are constantly texting. It has got to the point that this is not something that a teacher can monitor. There are not consequences for using phones during class. However, phones also can be a useful tool for learning. The phones are much more of distraction than a useful tool and it is true they are many tells texting their parents and their parents are texting them back.


March 15th, 2013
5:30 pm

If the school insists on calling the police first and not the parent, damn straight kid should call a lawyer. I know I will get slammed for my opinion but so be it. My kids are aware of their rights as they should be

old teach

March 15th, 2013
5:33 pm

With the rampant abuse of–and opportunity for cheating using–cell phones at school, the simplest remedy is to block the signals at school. If it’s illegal, then it should be changed. (We teachers can use the landlines to make calls during school hours.)
Blocking the signals also eliminates the confrontations with irate parents, furious at having to come to school to retrieve phones. I’ve also had students refuse to surrender the phone, thereby escalating a minor infraction to a more serious insubordination charge.


March 15th, 2013
5:34 pm

@indigo…..the lack of beating kids in a school setting is the cause of bad behavior? There is zero evidence to support that claim. Georgia still has paddling in a lot of districts,, that kind of stupidity needs to be outlawed


March 15th, 2013
5:42 pm

If the majority of parents stepped up to the plate to handle issues with their kids when they arise at school, then I think schools would be more inclined to let parents handle issues rather than calling the police.


March 15th, 2013
5:55 pm

Many years ago while working in a DeKalb Co ELEMENTARY SCHOOL I was a proctor for testing in a classroom of 10 year olds. The teacher handed me a basket and asked me to collect the phones. I was shocked to get a basket FULL of phones from kids in a Title I school with free/reduced lunch rate in the mid 90%! My kids had phones as teenagers when they had a source of income and paid for their own phone bill. They also got to drive the OLD family car when they paid in advance for their insurance and paid for their own gas. I was a single mom and money was tight – they had no choice but to help pay their own way. I never understood how that room full of kids managed to have phones.

Old timer

March 15th, 2013
7:29 pm

Like many…my dad and mom would kill me after the school was done…..therefore….I never got into trouble.

New Timer

March 15th, 2013
7:46 pm

The title 1 kids have Obama phones that the goverment issues them.
I think the story does not say this but I infer that the lawyer is probably the parent of the child.
What child actually knows a lawyer and why to call one?
I doubt the veracity of the story.
Don’t believe everything you read PEOPLE!!!
This is just an online commentary!
My opinion, no child needs a phione in the classroom. Its ok to have at school, just keep it in your locker.

Hillbilly D

March 15th, 2013
7:56 pm

In my day, the kid would have had to write his lawyer a letter. Letter writing is a lost art; do they teach it in school, anymore?

Not PC and a HS teacher

March 15th, 2013
8:04 pm

After teaching for 23 years-6 in middle school and 17 in high school, I must add the observation that
most truly boneheaded behavior by teachers is the result of equally boneheaded policies mandated by equally boneheaded interpretations of such policies by overly earnest administration types who harp on the policies to the faculty constantly, rather than exercise judgement.

This is not restricted to cell phone issues.

Not PC and a HS teacher

March 15th, 2013
8:06 pm

And by the way, blocking cell phones with jammers is a serious FCC violation.


March 15th, 2013
8:57 pm

Only A Kid from the LUCKY GENE POOL CLUB could do such a thing! This is in no way a reflection
of an outcome of the average Georgia High School or even a College enrolled student in Georgia.
This is a case of the exception and not the RULE!

Maximus Desimus Meridius

March 15th, 2013
9:10 pm

We can all thank Obama and his free cell phones for this…….

10:10 am

March 15th, 2013
9:44 pm

Fellow blog readers, @Bernie needs to believe that all his problems in life resulted from a force beyond his control. Those terrible choices he made as an adolescent, a teen and an adult in no way set the stage for his current unhappiness in life, he believes.

It was “Whitey” who forced him into having a criminal record (perhaps), and to neglect his school studies (perhaps), and to father children—perhaps by several women—well before he had the financial means to support them.

To @Bernie, the “Lucky Gene Pool Club” is code for all of us, white and black, who DIDN’T engage in his self-destructive behavior—but should now pony up to make his life easier.


March 15th, 2013
9:49 pm

This whole thing is so rediculous. Parents, you get what you ask for. The ultimate pay back is you will have your spoiled child with you long after he/she should be independent. Pay back is he–. There is absolutely no reason any child needs a phone at school during the instructional hours. None. Zip. Zero.


March 15th, 2013
10:47 pm

@Newtimer, there is no such thing as an “Obama phone” stop spreading lies/propoganda; I have been in the telecom industry for more than 32 years and you are referring to the Lifeline program which has been in place for MANY years, prior to our current President. Stop your lies.

Jack ®

March 16th, 2013
6:00 am

As was said above, the parents will rue the day they spoiled this child. Cell phones are akin to a disease.


March 16th, 2013
6:15 am

If they have heard J Tom Morgan speak at their school, they absolutely know what to do and who to reach out to.

I am one of those parents that would still punish my kids for almost anything they do wrong. (I always believe the school, by the way.) Thus, I have mostly good kids.

However, I do believe that part of what is driving some of this madness is that the punishments are often so dang severe and life altering without a direct tie in to the bad behavior at hand. zero tolerance is part of the problem.

Ann, nowadays, the girl who went off campus to get food might be suspended and not allowed to walk at graduation.


March 16th, 2013
7:41 am

I’m kinda in agreement with @Maybe… here. If the school has such an overreaction that they called the police and involved the law, then I don’t see what’s so wrong about the student overreacting as well and calling a lawyer to protect his rights.

If a school were to railroad my kid and involve the police right away instead of calling me, I would want my kid to get in touch with a lawyer too.


March 16th, 2013
9:43 am

Parents, and I have 2 kids with cell phones, wake up. Look at society, does anyone use phones “responsibilty”? How many people can’t hold a conversation without needing to touch their phone, and out in public what do you see with phones. You think a kid has the power to say no to the phone in school? Mine know that the phone is for emergency only, that I expect focus on what is going on in class as their top priority. If you think the majority of kids in school are getting any lessons on responsibility, then why is their alcohol at school, sending of inappropiate pictures, etc.. Why does anyone need to get in touch with kids at school, call the front office, most classrooms have phones, so it is easy to get in touch with kids. They should be in class right doing work, reading, not texting? I would hate to grow up these days where I was constantly texing, or calling my parents. I enjoyed some seperation, it’s how you learn to grow up.

Cell phones are our new addiction, “Hey boss could you wait a minute, I’m texting right now, I’ll get to work in a few, my mom needs to know if I am ate breakfast”. Don’t let a phone control your kids, have some power over you life.

drew (former teacher)

March 16th, 2013
9:52 am

A few questions for all of those saying the school overreacted by calling the police…

So when a student is suspected with violating the law, the police should not be notified? They’re supposed to ignore the fact that possession of alcohol by a minor is illegal? Does the school not have an obligation to inform authorities when students break the law? Can the schools just use their discretion regarding which “crimes” must be reported to authorities, or are they REQUIRED to report it?

And BTW, the kid didn’t need to call a lawyer on a cell phone…he could have accomplished the same thing by just keeping his mouth shut until his mommy/daddy/lawyer came to bail his butt out.

“If a school were to railroad my kid…” RAILROAD? Yeah, right…obviously the big bad school was railroading this poor innocent child. BWAHHHH!


March 16th, 2013
9:55 am

There is no such thing as an “Obama phone.” Don’t believe me? Go to and you will see this program does not hand out free phones and was begun during the Reagan administration.

drew (former teacher)

March 16th, 2013
10:31 am

Regarding Obama phones….some folks will believe whatever talk radio tells them. You can’t fix stupid and gullible.


March 16th, 2013
11:36 am

“So when a student is suspected with violating the law, the police should not be notified? They’re supposed to ignore the fact that possession of alcohol by a minor is illegal? Does the school not have an obligation to inform authorities when students break the law? Can the schools just use their discretion regarding which “crimes” must be reported to authorities, or are they REQUIRED to report it?”

Sure they do. Kid A attacks Kid B. Kid B defends himself. School gives both a 3 day suspension for fighting. The truth is, Kid A could/should have been charged with battery and no charges against Kid B for protecting himself. But, too many of those and the school gets classified as a persistently dangerous school and administrators get moved. Can’t have that. Much better to through Kid B under the bus.


March 16th, 2013
11:46 am

Folks, the days are long gone when police would pick up teens for mischief and just call the parents. The student in this article will probably go to court and get a “pre-trial diversion”, which means about $500-750 in fines and court fees. A lot of “police work” today is little more than revenue generation. You can argue chicken or egg all day long about the causes, but if you get caught up in the legal meat grinder, you better get a lawyer.

“If they have heard J Tom Morgan speak at their school, they absolutely know what to do and who to reach out to.

Probably not a bad investment in today’s climate. If I had teens today, I would think very seriously about paying for an hour of a lawyer’s time to let them walk through some of the legal pitfalls that are out there.

Police: Son, you had anything to drink?
Underage teen: I drank about a half a beer.

Congrats. You just admitted to the police you broke the law and can be charged with underaged possession/use of alcohol. Years ago, the policeman probably would have put a little “fear of God” into them and let them go. Too much money at stake nowadays – see above.


March 16th, 2013
11:49 am

“Much better to through Kid B under the bus.”

Yeah, yeah, I meant to type THROW.

Proude Educator

March 16th, 2013
1:55 pm

For those who stated that the school overreacted and the parents should have been notified first remember it’s a criminal offense. Principals have been terminated for trying to handle criminal offenses as regular school related offenses without reporting to law enforcement agencies. That’s why school resource officers are in place.Breaking a law and a school rule are two very different things. We know very little about the situation so it’s too early to pass judgement.

J. W. Brown, Jr.

March 16th, 2013
3:15 pm

Oh for the good ole days at Boys High when we had no rights, just an ungodly fear of Mr. H. O. Smith and Mr. Hal Hulsey!