Taking pictures, recording lectures in class requires consent

Alijah Jacob Buada, Online Editor-in-Chief

In a world revolving around electronics, cell phones and other recording devices — even though technically banned during class time — are everywhere. It is not unusual for a student to whip out a phone during class to snap a picture of the board that lists assignments or to capture the memory of a spirit day with a picture of a classmate.

Many will say that since students have grown so accustomed to having technology, being able to take these pictures is acceptable. On the contrary, others will say that the privacy of the classroom is breached once the pictures are taken. The extent to which recording students or teachers becomes a violation of privacy is determined by how strongly the education code is actually enforced by the school.

Education Code section 51512 states the following: “The Legislature finds that the use by any person, including a pupil, of any electronic listening or recording device in any classroom of the elementary and secondary schools without the prior consent of the teacher and the principal of the school given to promote an educational purpose disrupts and impairs the teaching process and discipline in the elementary and secondary schools, and such use is prohibited. Any person, other than a pupil, who willfully violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

So, technically, a student could be charged with a crime for that innocent Instagram post.

Most millennials believe that recording or taking photos has become so ubiquitous in today’s society due to all the prevalence of the social media. A common misconception is that if a certain teacher is more lenient towards letting students access their phones within the classroom, then the students have the complete freedom to record and post about anything that happens within the classroom.

“You must always have consent,” U.S. History teacher Heather Blount said. “It’s not right to record people without their knowledge.”

When it comes down to teachers recording their students, there must be an educational purpose of doing so.
Some teachers are understanding of students’ desire to use phones, but still feel that the rules regarding cell phones within the classroom are important.

“You have to draw the line at some place, but we have [undergone] such a big cultural change to where everybody is using cellphones for everything,” Spanish teacher Andres Gil said. “It all depends on what the picture or video is going to be used for. What extremes are you going to be willing to enforce within the classroom to keep it safe?”

Students who are well-organized and efficient often take videos or voice memos of the lessons or lectures from class to refer back to in case they missed some information. These incidents are permitted simply because it will help them with their studies. Although taking pictures may be beneficial to the student, teachers may find it bothersome.

“I have a problem with [taking pictures] because students like to take pictures all the time rather than actually do their own notes and synthesize information,” Blount said.

Whether or not the teacher is the recorder or recorded, permission is a requirement. For the sake of confidentiality and respect within the classroom, the education code applies to all situations.