Here are some points to consider:
Consent and Notification: It's essential to have explicit consent from parents or legal guardians if students are minors. Even if students are not employees, they still have privacy rights. Proper notification to both students and parents is crucial.
FERPA Compliance: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records. Any monitoring should be in compliance with FERPA regulations to avoid violations.
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): If the school is providing online services or websites to students under the age of 13, COPPA may come into play. It requires obtaining parental consent for collecting personal information from children.
Vendor Liability: If a breach of student private communications occurs due to IT or vendor mistakes, there could be potential liability issues. Schools should have agreements in place with vendors that address data security and liability.
Local and State Laws: Laws regarding electronic surveillance, data privacy, and education can vary by state and locality. It's important to consult with legal experts who are knowledgeable about local regulations.
Balancing Security and Privacy: Schools must strike a balance between ensuring network security and respecting student privacy. An overly intrusive monitoring system could raise concerns.
Ultimately, it's crucial to consult with legal counsel who specializes in education law and data privacy to ensure that the school system's practices comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, a transparent and well-documented approach to monitoring, including clear notification to students and parents, can help mitigate potential legal risks.
This is good input. Ultimately liability is going to come down to primarily local laws and statutes and what the legal department of the district has done to ensure safety and indemnification, and of course what transparency, notification and consent has been granted. That students are required to attend school, are not employees or at will, and are minors make this not just different, but essentially the opposite, of an employment situation. Any breach of privacy (not meaning a breach of IT systems, but the IT systems themselves) could violate constitutional rights as well as international human rights...
From a law firm on US right to privacy... "The right to privacy is a fundamental human right, and it is recognized by international treaties and many countries’ Constitutions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to privacy in Article 12, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further elaborates on the right to privacy in Article 17.
At the same time, different countries have different laws and regulations when it comes to privacy. In the United States, for example, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This has been interpreted by the courts to include the right to privacy."
Even if students are not minors, the question is whether this constitutes unreasonable search leading to violation of privacy. And of course if it puts minors at risk, that's an additional concern.