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New Halifax County schools policy could be tricky to implement

School district has banned recording video without district's permission

HALIFAX COUNTY, Va. – Like it or not, if you record video of something at a Halifax County school without the district's permission you could now be punished.

Our story that aired Friday has been shared on social media numerous times, drawing numerous comments.

Nikki Nell writes in a Facebook comment, "So, they punish people recording stuff and don't punish people responsible for the mess going on in school? That makes absolutely no sense."

John Wagstaff, also in a Facebook comment, says in part, "This is so wrong."

Liberty University law professor Joe Martins said Monday that implementing a policy like this is tricky.

"There's no Supreme Court decision directly on point addressing to what extent students can record in the school setting," Martins said. "That said, the Supreme Court has held, generally, that there is a First Amendment right of access to gather information."

Further complicating the issue is the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the public has a right to record police officers doing their jobs.

"It's part of that right to gather information, but it's subject to governmental reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. Now here's the question: Are courts going to extend this right to recording school officials in the public schools," he emphasized.

The key to being able to enforce a policy like Halifax County's, he said, is being able to justify that whoever is being punished disrupted learning at the school by making the recording.

"Usually, schools that are first in the field, they could potentially be one of the first test cases. If someone challenges the policy in court, and then if the court says 'Yes, this is constitutional,' then what you'll see is a lot of other school districts will probably ride those coat tails and say, 'Hey, we're going to pass a policy like this,'" Martins said.

Halifax County's superintendent says punishment for violating the policy will be on a case-by-case basis.


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