Forced to delete video recording of fight at school?

by MD
(Bolton, TX)

I am a parent of a Kindergarten student. My daughter has Down syndrome and in an inclusionary class. Recently I was at the school to observe her engagement in class. While in her class I saw two little girls fighting in the corner. One of the girls was on top of the other pinning her down, much like a WWF wresting move.

I quickly asked the faculty to respond and at the same time, I recorded what I saw so that I would be able to properly report this to the authorities. After telling the principle and asking if she needed my recording for proof, I was told to delete the recording in front of her and that I am not permitted to record this type of interaction.

I am unsure what I did wrong if anything? Were they correct to have me delete the video, or is this destruction of evidence? Are there laws about this? Please provide any information you can. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Forced to delete video recording of fight at school?":

MD (Bolton, TX):

While the school principal could insist, or even demand you delete the recording, you were under no legal obligation to do so.

The school principal can certainly ask you to leave school property and not return. If the principal asks you to leave the property and you refuse, or if the principal asks you not to return to the property and you do, that may be considered Trespassing.

In the State of Texas, trespassing is a crime. Section 30.05(a)(1)(2) of the Texas Penal Code reads in part:

"A person commits (the offense of Trespassing) if the person enters or remains on or in property of another...without effective consent, AND the person:

(1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or
(2) received notice to depart but failed to do so."

While insisting you delete the video was technically destroying evidence, doing so was not a crime, nor was it a violation of any civil Texas statute (law).

However, the principal's order to destroy the evidence would have been a criminal offense if a subpoena duces tecum had been issued to the principal by a court, or if a there existed another court order prohibiting the destruction of evidence. Neither of those occurred. Likewise, if an attorney had sent a Spoliation of Evidence letter, it likely would have hurt the defendant.

Unfortunately, you appear to be at odds with the principal. Under the circumstances, that is certainly understandable. Try to resolve the issue amicably by speaking with the principal. Hopefully doing so will result in a peaceful resolution to the issues.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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