This story is from Kaylie, who never got in trouble for anything else in her high school career.
To preface this story, let me describe the kind of student I was in high school. I can’t recall ever getting in trouble. I got along well with the teachers and principals. I worked hard and got good grades. It seemed like things would stay this way until I graduated.
About three weeks before graduation, I was texting during class. My principal walked by the classroom and saw me. She confiscated my phone and told me to pack up my stuff and come outside. She told me I would be suspended. What could I say? I knew I deserved to be punished, I had blatantly broken a school rule. I asked her if she could please not look through my phone. She responded, “Of course we’re going to look through it.”
I was the student and she was the principal. There was nothing I could do. I went home and several hours later received a phone call telling me I would need to come to school the next day for a meeting with the principals.
It was a gut-wrenching 24-hours, because I knew they were busy reading my very personal texts. Texts that were supposed to stay between me and my closest confidants.
The next day I came down for the meeting. My principals proceeded to mention the things they had read in my phone. They asked me questions, pressing for answers even though I didn’t want to answer. But I felt like I had no choice. They were holding all the cards, as well as my phone.
Then we got to the big part.
My principals had read something really personal and wanted to tell my parents. They were concerned about my psychological well-being, and thought my parents should know. I begged them not to. I knew my parents would be hurt and upset on my behalf. It was something I needed to work out on my own, or tell my parents when I felt ready.
They gave a noncommittal answer.
Having spent fifteen years in that school I knew what that meant. They were going to tell my parents. There was nothing I could do.
And they did.
My parents took it how I thought they would, and it has remained a source of tension between us ever since.
I wish I could tell my principals how hurtful this incident was. How it left me with a terrible feeling towards the school right before I graduated. How I still have difficulty looking my principals in the eye. I wish I could tell them how much this has affected me.
I know I was wrong to text in class, and I accept that it was school policy to permanently confiscate phones, but I did not think I deserved a punishment so invasive that it still affects my family today.
This story is from Kaylie. When I expressed shock that a school permanently confiscates phones as a matter of policy (I believe I called it “stealing”), she said it was normal. I asked how they could be trusted to safely dispose of someone’s personal information. She said, “Rumor has it that [school] has a large fishtank full of water that they drop the phones into.”