The Rutherford Institute has issued a precautionary “opt out” letter as a means by which families whose children are taking part in remote learning/virtual classes might assert their Fourth Amendment privacy rights and guard against intrusive government surveillance posed by remote learning technologies. The Institute released its model “Parental Reservation of Rights – Remote Learning Surveillance” letter in the wake of a growing number of incidents in which students have been suspended and reported to police by school officials for having toy guns nearby while taking part in virtual schooling.
“Remote learning should not justify the expansion of draconian zero tolerance policies to encompass so-called ‘violations’ that take place in students’ homes and home environments. Nor should remote learning be used as a backdoor means of allowing government officials to conduct warrantless surveillance into students’ homes and home environments,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “While COVID-19 has undoubtedly introduced significant challenges for the schools, the protocols adopted for navigating these circumstances demand a heightened degree of caution lest government officials heedlessly, needlessly and unlawfully violate key constitutional safeguards established to protect the citizenry against invasive and warrantless intrusion into the home.”