Parent drops case over school holding on to son's confiscated handphone for three months

The school said on Thursday that there was no change to its policy on the use of mobile phones in the wake of this case.
The school said on Thursday that there was no change to its policy on the use of mobile phones in the wake of this case. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A parent who went to court to protest against a school holding his son's confiscated phone for three months has dropped the case.

A school spokesman told The Straits Times on Thursday (Nov 9) that the parent was ordered by the court to pay costs to the school.

The case stirred keen interest when it surfaced in June.

The parent had sued the secondary school principal for damages earlier this year after the phone was seized from his son, who broke the rules for using it during school hours.

Under the rules, the student was required to keep his phone in his locker from the start of the day until after school hours, which include academic coaching or detention classes.

The boy admitted to the principal he had used an iPhone 7 during school hours on March 8, leading to the seizure. The SIM card was returned along with a receipt stating the phone could be retrieved on June 20.

Both parent and son knew of the rule. The father initially wrote to the school, arguing that "a three-month confiscation is disproportionate to the offence", among other things.

He then filed a court action alleging that retaining the phone amounted to the tort of conversion, which involves denying a person's rights to his property.

 
 

The father also applied for an interim court injunction to have the phone returned immediately pending settlement of the case. This was turned down by District Judge Clement Julien Tan on April 28.

The judge ruled that the principal was justified in holding on to the phone given school rules.

The school had also acknowledged that the phone would be returned at the end of the three-month period.

District Judge Tan said the father had not "established any special circumstances in the present case" to enable the interim injunction to succeed.

The school said on Thursday that there was no change to its policy on the use of mobile phones in the wake of this case.

"This requires our students to keep their handphones in their lockers during school hours," a spokesman said.

It is believed the student is no longer with the school.