AHS, City Accused Of Civil Rights Flub – September 10, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

ARCATA – Arcata High School is again the target of a civil rights lawsuit, with an Aug. 16 complaint alleging that school officials illegally seized and searched a student’s cell phone and improperly suspended her.

The student, Stephanie Calderon, and her mother, Claudia D’Arcy-Calderon, are represented by Attorney Peter Martin. He is also the lawyer for the family of an Arcata High School (AHS) student that is suing school officials and the Northern Humboldt Unified School District over a vehicle search that was spurred by a marijuana-related t-shirt.

The Calderon complaint names former Arcata High School Principal Lisa Gray, Assistant Principal Geri Wood and District Superintendent Kenny Richards as primary defendants.

One of the complaint’s main allegations is that “without any reasonable suspicions of wrongdoing on Stephanie’s part,” Gray called Calderon into her office on Dec. 17, 2010 and demanded to see her cell phone. Gray then “viewed the private information contained in Stephanie’s cell phone database,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges that about a month later, Wood violated several sections of the state’s education code by issuing a two-day suspension to Calderon over an alleged shoplifting incident which occurred off the school’s campus.

The alleged actions against Calderon are described in the complaint as “retaliation for her assertion of her civil rights.”

Claudia Calderon has “battled with the school administration over issues related to accommodation of Stephanie’s disabilities as required by law,” the complaint states, culminating in the filing of two civil rights complaints against the school district to the U.S. Department of Education.

Though not detailed in the complaint, Calderon’s disabilities resulted in repeated absences which were allegedly treated as truancy rather than medically-related leaves.

The suspension mentioned in the complaint is connected to an incident which occurred at the nearby Wildberries market. Calderon was accused of shoplifting when she walked out of the store with an unpaid-for sandwich.

Calderon claimed she’d forgotten to pay for it and the complaint points out that she was taking the medication alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug whose side effects include memory impairment.

But the complaint argues that regardless of the circumstances, Calderon was improperly “singled out” and suspended for “misconduct unconnected with the school or the campus.”

Her family is seeking punitive damages, $25,000 for a civil code violation related to the alleged cell phone search and attorney’s fees.

John Vrieze, the attorney for the district, was contacted but declined to comment on the allegations because they’re the subject of active litigation.

In an e-mail exchange, Martin said his client was called into Gray’s office to “discuss some off-campus conversations she had had with some cheerleaders.” Martin said that Gray “apparently did not believe Stephanie’s answers, and demanded to search her text messages on her cell phone.”

Gray treated Calderon differently because “Stephanie’s history asserting her rights aroused Mrs. Gray’s ire against her,” Martin continued.

He said his client has “multiple medical issues and is under the care of a physician.”  He added that she is “absent from school frequently due to medical treatment” and “most of the accommodation required relates to making up work and getting assignments because she has been absent.”

Martin has some personal experience with the school. “I have two children that graduated from Arcata High School,” he said. “I believe that a culture of disrespect towards students’ constitutional rights among administrators has existed at Arcata High School for many years.”

He added, “I believe this is starting to change in response to the litigation that this office has filed.”

 

 

 

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5 Responses to “AHS, City Accused Of Civil Rights Flub – September 10, 2011”

  1. Matt Horns

    Wood, you have a problem.

    #36536
  2. Mark Sailors

    The answer is password protect your data on your phone.
    Also, if I were the attorney, I would press the DA to file charges of illegally accessing a computer network or device. That is in fact a felony, a form of hacking.

    Penal Code
    Section 502

    502

    (a) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to expand the degree of protection afforded to individuals, businesses, and governmental agencies from tampering, interference, damage, and unauthorized access to lawfully created computer data and computer systems. The Legislature finds and declares that the proliferation of computer technology has resulted in a concomitant proliferation of computer crime and other forms of unauthorized access to computers, computer systems, and computer data. The Legislature further finds and declares that protection of the integrity of all types and forms of lawfully created computers, computer systems, and computer data is vital to the protection of the privacy of individuals as well as to the well-being of financial institutions, business concerns, governmental agencies, and others within this state that lawfully utilize those computers, computer systems, and data.

    (b) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

    (1) “Access” means to gain entry to, instruct, or communicate with the logical, arithmetical, or memory function resources of a computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (2) “Computer network” means any system which provides communications between one or more computer systems and input/output devices including, but not limited to, display terminals and printers connected by telecommunication facilities.

    (3) “Computer program or software” means a set of instructions or statements, and related data, that when executed in actual or modified form, cause a computer, computer system, or computer network to perform specified functions.

    (4) “Computer services” includes, but is not limited to, computer time, data processing, or storage functions, or other uses of a computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (5) “Computer system” means a device or collection of devices, including support devices and excluding calculators which are not programmable and capable of being used in conjunction with external files, one or more of which contain computer programs, electronic instructions, input data, and output data, that performs functions including, but not limited to, logic, arithmetic, data storage and retrieval, communication, and control.

    (6) “Data” means a representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts, computer software, computer programs or instructions. Data may be in any form, in storage media, or as stored in the memory of the computer or in transit or presented on a display device.

    (7) “Supporting documentation” includes, but is not limited to, all information, in any form, pertaining to the design, construction, classification, implementation, use, or modification of a computer, computer system, computer network, computer program, or computer software, which information is not generally available to the public and is necessary for the operation of a computer, computer system, computer network, computer program, or computer software.

    (8) “Injury” means any alteration, deletion, damage, or destruction of a computer system, computer network, computer program, or data caused by the access.

    (9) “Victim expenditure” means any expenditure reasonably and necessarily incurred by the owner or lessee to verify that a computer system, computer network, computer program, or data was or was not altered, deleted, damaged, or destroyed by the access.

    (10) “Computer contaminant” means any set of computer instructions that are designed to modify, damage, destroy, record, or transmit information within a computer, computer system, or computer network without the intent or permission of the owner of the information. They include, but are not limited to, a group of computer instructions commonly called viruses or worms, which are self-replicating or self-propagating and are designed to contaminate other computer programs or computer data, consume computer resources, modify, destroy, record, or transmit data, or in some other fashion usurp the normal operation of the computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (c) Except as provided in subdivision (h), any person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a public offense:

    (1) Knowingly accesses and without permission alters, damages, deletes, destroys, or otherwise uses any data, computer, computer system, or computer network in order to either (A) devise or execute any scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive, or extort, or (B) wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data.

    (2) Knowingly accesses and without permission takes, copies, or makes use of any data from a computer, computer system, or computer network, or takes or copies any supporting documentation, whether existing or residing internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (3) Knowingly and without permission uses or causes to be used computer services.

    (4) Knowingly accesses and without permission adds, alters, damages, deletes, or destroys any data, computer software, or computer programs which reside or exist internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (5) Knowingly and without permission disrupts or causes the disruption of computer services or denies or causes the denial of computer services to an authorized user of a computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (6) Knowingly and without permission provides or assists in providing a means of accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network in violation of this section.

    (7) Knowingly and without permission accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (8) Knowingly introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, or computer network.

    (d) (1) Any person who violates any of the provisions of paragraph (1), (2), (4), or (5) of subdivision (c) is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    (2) Any person who violates paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) is punishable as follows:

    (A) For the first violation which does not result in injury, and where the value of the computer services used does not exceed four hundred dollars ($400), by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    (B) For any violation which results in a victim expenditure in an amount greater than five thousand dollars ($5,000) or in an injury, or if the value of the computer services used exceeds four hundred dollars ($400), or for any second or subsequent violation, by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    (3) Any person who violates paragraph (6), (7), or (8) of subdivision (c) is punishable as follows:

    (A) For a first violation which does not result in injury, an infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

    (B) For any violation which results in a victim expenditure in an amount not greater than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or for a second or subsequent violation, by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    (C) For any violation which results in a victim expenditure in an amount greater than five thousand dollars ($5,000), by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    (e) (1) In addition to any other civil remedy available, the owner or lessee of the computer, computer system, computer network, computer program, or data may bring a civil action against any person convicted under this section for compensatory damages, including any expenditure reasonably and necessarily incurred by the owner or lessee to verify that a computer system, computer network, computer program, or data was or was not altered, damaged, or deleted by the access. For the purposes of actions authorized by this subdivision, the conduct of an unemancipated minor shall be imputed to the parent or legal guardian having control or custody of the minor, pursuant to the provisions of Section 1714.1 of the Civil Code.

    (2) In any action brought pursuant to this subdivision the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to a prevailing party.

    (3) A community college, state university, or academic institution accredited in this state is required to include computer-related crimes as a specific violation of college or university student conduct policies and regulations that may subject a student to disciplinary sanctions up to and including dismissal from the academic institution. This paragraph shall not apply to the University of California unless the Board of Regents adopts a resolution to that effect.

    (f) This section shall not be construed to preclude the applicability of any other provision of the criminal law of this state which applies or may apply to any transaction, nor shall it make illegal any employee labor relations activities that are within the scope and protection of state or federal labor laws.

    (g) Any computer, computer system, computer network, or any software or data, owned by the defendant, which is used during the commission of any public offense described in subdivision (c) or any computer, owned by the defendant, which is used as a repository for the storage of software or data illegally obtained in violation of subdivision (c) shall be subject to forfeiture, as specified in Section 502.01.

    (h) (1) Subdivision (c) does not apply to any person who accesses his or her employer’s computer system, computer network, computer program, or data when acting within the scope of his or her lawful employment.

    (2) Paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) does not apply to any employee who accesses or uses his or her employer’s computer system, computer network, computer program, or data when acting outside the scope of his or her lawful employment, so long as the employee’s activities do not cause an injury, as defined in paragraph (8) of subdivision (b), to the employer or another, or so long as the value of supplies and computer services, as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (b), which are used do not exceed an accumulated total of one hundred dollars ($100).

    (i) No activity exempted from prosecution under paragraph (2) of subdivision (h) which incidentally violates paragraph (2), (4), or (7) of subdivision (c) shall be prosecuted under those paragraphs.

    (j) For purposes of bringing a civil or a criminal action under this section, a person who causes, by any means, the access of a computer, computer system, or computer network in one jurisdiction from another jurisdiction is deemed to have personally accessed the computer, computer system, or computer network in each jurisdiction.

    (k) In determining the terms and conditions applicable to a person convicted of a violation of this section the court shall consider the following:

    (1) The court shall consider prohibitions on access to and use of computers.

    (2) Except as otherwise required by law, the court shall consider alternate sentencing, including community service, if the defendant shows remorse and recognition of the wrongdoing, and an inclination not to repeat the offense.

    #36588
  3. Have either of these cases been settled?

    #70214
  4. Pam Ford Cavanagh

    No idea if still in court. Suit filed Sept 11…dragging on for two years is a definite possibility.

    #70216

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