Like the pandemic Deployed in the spring of 2020, an Educause survey found that a growing number of students, who had little choice but to take tests remotely, were increasingly enduring potential invasions of privacy by schools. Two years later, for example, it’s considered standard practice for some schools to record students during remote testing to prevent cheating, while others conduct room scans when testing begins.
Now, in an apparent victory for students everywhere, an Ohio judge has ruled that this latest practice of scanning halls is not only an invasion of privacy but a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guaranteed protection against searches. ·legal in American homes.
The decision came after Cleveland State University student Aaron Ogletree agreed to a room scan before a chemistry exam, even though his professor had changed his policy, and he didn’t expect happened before the test. Since there were others in her home, she did the test in her bedroom, where she says she had sensitive tax documents spread out on a surface. These confidential documents, he claimed, could not be moved before the test and were visible on the scan recording of the room, which was shared with other students.
After the test, Ogletree sued the state of Cleveland for violating his Fourth Amendment rights, and Ohio Judge J. Philip Calabrese ruled on August 22 that Ogletree was right: the room searches they are unconstitutional.
Before the decision, Cleveland State defended its room-searching practice, saying it had become routine during the pandemic and therefore more acceptable to society.
Under the Fourth Amendment, only reasonable searches are protected, and the university did not find the searches of his rooms to be unreasonable. Part of the school’s logic was that Ogletree knew there would be a room scan and was not forced to scan his room. They say he could also have prepared to remove any sensitive documents from the room or simply chose to do the test in a different room. The university claimed that students considered room searches so universally harmless that no one ever complained about the practice before Ogletree.
Calabrese didn’t buy that defense, in part because “room scans go where people wouldn’t otherwise go”—like Ogletree’s bedroom—and in part because the house has always been considered a protected space. basic where privacy could reasonably be assumed in the US.
“While schools may routinely use remote technology to peer into homes without objection from some, most, or nearly all students, it does not follow that others cannot object to the virtual intrusion into their homes or that the routine use of a practice such as room searches does not violate a privacy interest that society recognizes as reasonable, both in fact and in law,” Calabrese wrote.
A Cleveland State spokesperson provided Ars with this statement: “As directed by the Court, Cleveland State University’s counsel will confer with Mr. Ogletree’s counsel regarding appropriate next steps. Ensuring academic integrity is essential to our mission and will guide us as we move forward. While this matter remains in active litigation, we cannot comment further.”
Remotely scan a slippery slope for more illegal searches?
Calabrese’s decision came down to what the law deemed reasonable for schools to try to prevent cheating.
Ultimately, because Cleveland State used room scans unevenly (they are optional at the discretion of teachers) and the school had other methods to combat cheating, the judge said the room scans rooms could not be considered a justified invasion of privacy. He also said that because the pandemic and Ogletree’s family’s health issues prevented the student from accessing other options such as face-to-face testing, any student who “valued privacy” would have to sacrifice the right to privacy at home to remain enrolled. That benefit, unlike the loss of benefits from social support programs without consenting to a home search by the state, does not outweigh the loss of citizens’ privacy, Calabrese wrote.