When Singapore schools confiscate a phone for using it during school hours, it seems they don’t mess around. The penalty handed out by the school was to confiscate the iPhone 7 for a full three months.
The student in question admitted that he had used the phone, and was aware of both the rule prohibiting it and the penalty for breaking that rule – but the boy’s father wasn’t satisfied with this.
The man – who was not named – sent an email to the school claiming that the phone actually belonged to him, and had only been lent to his son, and demanding its immediate return. When this failed, he followed up with a letter from a lawyer. When the school stuck to its guns and ignored the letter, the man took the principal to court.
Pleasingly, the court upheld the action taken by the school.
It is undisputed that the plaintiff’s son flouted the Phone Rule by using the Phone during school hours. By confiscating the Phone, the defendant had merely sought to enforce the Phone Rule, which he had authority to do. All proper procedures were also adhered to in the lead up to the confiscation of the Phone. The defendant’s evidence is also that the Phone Rule is applied consistently and uniformly across the student body and that there is no reason for the plaintiff’s son to be treated differently. On this point, I note that whilst the plaintiff took issue with the harshness of the punishment in his email of 21 March 2017, the plaintiff did not raise any issue with the reasonableness of the Phone Rule in these proceedings. Hence, I accept that the defendant’s refusal to return the Phone until 20 June 2017 is justifiable.