BERNE, N.Y. – One local father is asking for answers after his son's cell phone was confiscated, then searched by the school principal.
In this situation, a teacher caught a 14-year-old texting in class and confiscated the phone, turning it over to the principal -- but it's what the principal did with the phone that has this parent outraged.
Jeff Haas told NEWS10 the principal found inappropriate pictures of a 14-year-old girl on his son's phone, likely of his girlfriend, and alerted him along with the Sheriff's Department. But what Haas doesn't understand, is why the principal would go through the phone when his son was simply caught texting in class.
"It wasn't something that they just scrolled through as a screensaver or something he was looking at. It was something when they took the phone, they then proceeded to take the phone and access his personal accounts and read them to find the photos and that's where I think they crossed a major line," said Haas.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says his department was contacted by the principal at the Berne Knox Westerlo School District regarding the pictures and his deputies are investigating, but given the age of the teens it's challenging.
"We're not looking to charge anyone. We want to just get to the bottom of it and if there's a crime there, we'll sit down with the district attorney and move forward," said Apple.
Apple told NEWS10 he's never heard of a principal going through a student's cell phone like this before, but calls it understandable.
Former judge, district attorney and now attorney in a private practice, Arnold Proskin says the principal is in the wrong.
"He should not have done it. It's improper; it's invasive of his property," said Proskin.
As for Hass, he'd retained an attorney and is still working on what to tell his son about the matter.
"We have to sit down and explain what he did do that was inappropriate, but it's hard to tell him how inappropriate he was when in the process the school broke the law," said Haas.
NEWS10 spoke with the school district superintendent over the phone, but he declined to give any details on the case or even say if the district has a cell phone policy in place. NEWS10 also reached out to the district attorney's office, but they have not returned calls at this time.
As for Apple, he hopes this serves as a reminder to parents to police their kids phones.
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