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Quebec teen says smartphone rules are too tough in letter to school board

Last Updated Jan 19, 2018 at 6:40 pm EDT

SAGUENAY, Que. – A Quebec teen thinks his school’s policy of seizing smartphones belonging to students caught using them in class goes too far.

Vincent Duguay, 15, challenged his school’s cellphone policy with a cease-and-desist letter sent to the local school board this week.

His legal letter says it’s unconstitutional for a school to create a policy that allows a student’s phone to be seized for 24 hours.

The board in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region confirmed Friday the letter was hand-delivered by the teen Wednesday.

Duguay has never had his own phone confiscated and his father, Benoit, told Radio-Canada’s Saguenay station he doesn’t have an issue with them being forbidden in the classroom.

Rather, Benoit Duguay said the punishment of taking smartphones away for an extended period isn’t reasonable.

“There shouldn’t be a prejudice against the kids if they’re caught,” he said.

In one case, Benoit Duguay said one of his son’s friends was fired from his job because he was unreachable after he had his phone taken away by the school.

There are also security concerns attached to the confiscation if students don’t have access to their devices.

Benoit Duguay said there’s no legal action forthcoming but that they’d just like to see the situation corrected.

Word of the letter has been heavily shared and debated online in Quebec in recent days, something the elder Duguay said he anticipated.

His son is a student at Charles-Gravel High School, one of four in the region.

Claudie Fortin, a spokeswoman for the Rives-du-Saguenay school board, says each school establishes its own rules in different areas, including cellphone use.

Fortin says the letter is in the hands of the board’s lawyers.

She adds it’s the first time a complaint has been filed about cellphones.

“We will reply directly to him in the coming days,” Fortin said.

— Written by Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal