The Student, Technology and in Loco Parentis: Legal Challenges in the Digital Age

By Michael Neel and Leslie Ennis.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While courts continue to grapple with traditional cases of educational rights and duties involving the “in loco parentis” doctrine, rapidly evolving technological challenges are threatening to blur traditional school law precedents in this area. The massive infusion of personal technology into the hands of students raises practical concerns for educators, as it does for their parents, in relation to improper use, content, and influence in the learning environment of the child. Because a student operating within the cyber world cannot necessarily be located in a traditional “space,” school officials, parents and courts are battling to determine the limits of the “in loco parentis” doctrine. Recent scholarship examining the intersection of “in loco parentis” and student use of information technologies has focused primarily on the challenges posed to higher education rather than secondary and elementary education. This paper outlines the historical interpretation of the “in loco parentis” doctrine, examines new challenges posed to the doctrine by the continuously increasing and widespread use of personal technology among secondary and elementary age students, and explores possibilities for the evolution of the doctrine in this information age.

Keywords: Education, Law, In Loco Parentis, Technology, Challenges, Secondary Schools, K-12, Personal Technology, Cell Phones, Internet

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.123-130. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 208.594KB).

Michael Neel

Doctoral Student, School of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA

Michael Neel has taught for ten years in various instructional environments in the United States and Japan including special education, social studies, ESL and community education. He is currently a student in the University of Maryland’s Teaching, Learning, Policy and Leadership Ph.D. program. Michael’s research interests are related to the intersection of education policy and K-12 classroom instruction. Michael is currently working for the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate to help improve doctoral education.

Dr. Leslie Ennis

Director, Doctoral Program; Professor of Law, Professor of Education, Cumberland School of Law, Orleans School of Education, Samford University, Birmingham, AL, USA

Dr. Ennis holds both the J.D. and Ph.D. degrees as well as completing, post-doctorally, the Management Development Program (MDP) at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. He is Director of Doctoral Programs as well as a Professor in the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Ennis also teaches at the Cumberland School of Law located at Samford University.


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