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School has kid slapped with felony eavesdropping charge

Friday, Jun 22, 2018

* The decision by the principal and the local state’ attorney to charge this kid with a felony is simply egregious

Paul Boron is 13 years old. He’s facing a felony eavesdropping charge that could change the course of the rest of his life.

Boron’s story stands as another chapter of controversy surrounding an eavesdropping law ripe for abuse, and state lawmakers should take action to fix it.

On Feb. 16, 2018, Boron was called to the principal’s office at Manteno Middle School after failing to attend a number of detentions. Before meeting Principal David Conrad and Assistant Principal Nathan Short, he began recording audio on his cellphone.

Boron said he argued with Conrad and Short for approximately 10 minutes in the reception area of the school secretary’s office, with the door open to the hallway. When Boron told Conrad and Short he was recording, Conrad told Boron he was committing a felony and promptly ended the conversation, Boron says.

Two months later, in April, Boron was charged with one count of eavesdropping – a class 4 felony in Illinois.

* They were in a public space, so there should’ve been no reasonable expectation of privacy

Specifically, the new law made it a felony to surreptitiously record any “private conversation,” defined as “oral communication between [two] or more persons” where at least one person has a “reasonable expectation” of privacy.

But when does someone have a “reasonable” expectation of privacy? And is it fair to expect Illinoisans to know where to draw that line in their everyday lives? […]

Given the tenacity with which Illinois prosecutors have enforced the state’s eavesdropping law, reform from the Statehouse may be Boron’s best hope.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

38 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    Good lord is this stupid.

    We will show that kid…


  2. - ArchPundit - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    There really is no reason not to have a one party consent law in Illinois. These are public employees in a conversation with a student to make things worse.


  3. - Keyrock - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    OMG. Thanks for sharing this story, and helping to increase pressure to change this silly conduct by school administrators and a prosecutor.


  4. - RNUG - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:55 pm:

    As I understand it,, the conversation took place in an office with the door open. Any expectation of privacy is negated by the open door.


  5. - ArchPundit - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:55 pm:

    Just to add to OneMan’s point–he’s a 13 year old and two adults decided they’d get him charged with a felony for something that could have been turned into a teaching experience. Principals’ jobs are not supposed to be about finding ways to punish kids in the most extreme way possible.


  6. - Thoughts Matter - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:56 pm:

    Just exactly what was being said that these two adults were upset about being recorded? Were they not following accepted norms in their discussion with this student?
    They were at work in a public area where secretaries, teachers, visitors and other students could listen in.


  7. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:58 pm:

    Is it ok to have a cell phone at school and use it?


  8. - Anon - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    Any information for a go fund me for the kid to get some legal help would be great.


  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    ===in an office with the door open===

    In a reception area with the door open.


  10. - Thoughts Matter - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:00 pm:

    Adding…. why didn’t the prosecutor tell these adults what I just said in my post above? Maybe he should have listened to the recording and charged the adults based on the content?


  11. - Phil King - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:05 pm:

    The law SHOULD be changed, but even with the law on the books it would be absurd to find this kid guilty.

    No public employee should ever think they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” while at work and interacting with a minor.


  12. - What's in a name? - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    Clearly prosecution is the best course of action, this calls for double secret probation.

    /S/ Dean Vernon Wormer


  13. - What's in a name? - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    Should be “isn’t”


  14. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    Was Danny McBride the principal?


  15. - OneMan - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:09 pm:

    Adding…. why didn’t the prosecutor tell these adults what I just said in my post above

    Because it is easier to be a jerk to a 13-year-old kid.


  16. - northernwatersports - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:10 pm:

    Really?
    This is the type of performance that gives your local school board members heartburn.
    The local board should demand the recording to know first hand what the principal and asst. principal said during the conversation.
    It appears to me, that these two administrators have ultimately forgotten about those “teachable moments” that should be the bedrock of educational inspiration and learning, not just theory.
    Let’s find the silver lining in this ridiculous affair…..


  17. - Interim Retiree - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:19 pm:

    These administrators make all administrators look bad. And where are the school district’s attorneys? Shouldn’t they be telling the Board how ridiculous this is, even IF there is more to this than reported?


  18. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:22 pm:

    Two new retirees, coming up.


  19. - RNUG - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:23 pm:

    == In a reception area with the door open. ==

    More public and even less likelihood of privacy.

    Wonder how much this action is going to cost the local authorities (and taxpayers) to clean up?


  20. - Henry Francis - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:25 pm:

    47 - he was the vice principal.


  21. - Anon221 - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    Good coverage of this on CBS This Morning. I did do a bit of a double-take, though, when IPI got credit for the original story -

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/illinois-teen-faces-felony-charge-for-recording-conversation-with-school-principals/


  22. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:31 pm:

    Was Danny McBride the principal?

    No, Ed Rooney.


  23. - btowntruthfromforgottonia - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:33 pm:

    A felony?
    For WHAT??

    Low grade misdemeanor at best. And that is stretching it.
    And something a state attorney shouldn’t even waste time on.
    Should refuse to prosecute it.


  24. - Texas Red - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:34 pm:

    Thank Governor Quinn for this one…Quinn signs new Illinois eavesdropping rules into law. … Under the law, such a conversation is defined as any oral communication between two or more people in which the parties have a “reasonable expectation” the discussion will remain private.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-quinn-signs-illinois-eavesdropping-law-met-1231-20141230-story.html


  25. - Slalom - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    ==I did do a bit of a double-take, though, when IPI got credit for the original story -==

    Maybe that’s because you what you think IPI is has very little relation to what IPI actually is.

    Try reading their stuff yourself instead of letting other people tell you what to think about them.


  26. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:47 pm:

    In my day, if you skipped detention you got a suspension. If you got suspended enough, you got expelled.

    Why do they need to bring the State’s Attorney’s office into this dispute? Don’t they have enough to do? The county police and prosecutors should send Manteno Middle School a bill for their services.


  27. - Northsider (the original) - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 2:59 pm:

    Is there a transcript of the recording?


  28. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:00 pm:

    ===Is there a transcript===

    Since it’s being treated as a felony, I wouldn’t go near it if there was one.


  29. - ChrisB - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:12 pm:

    Guys, he was obviously a problem child, well past the point of rehabilitation. The Vice Principal is right to bring this lawsuit against this kid. Gotta scare him straight. I mean, if he’s missing multiple detentions, what’s next? Probably smoking the MJ behind the swingset.

    /s


  30. - a drop in - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:28 pm:

    My experience, school administrators love to scare kids with all these threats of punishment. When pushed (and I hope the ACLU is involved), they will fold faster than a bad poker hand.


  31. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:33 pm:

    Felony charge is way out of line for this offense.

    However, it seems a bit like entrapment by the recorder…….hoping to find some ammunition to “get them” with. Maybe that’s why the law is so strict. Would we all consent to be secretly recorded at our jobs?


  32. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:44 pm:

    Somebody should put the State’s attorney in detention. Whatever happened to using common sense to decide if a minor should be charged in a juvenile petition?


  33. - charles in charge - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:46 pm:

    ==Thank Governor Quinn for this one==

    As other commenters have pointed out, the charge will never hold up in this case and never should have been brought. Your criticisms of the law and Gov. Quinn are misplaced. The blame for this debacle falls squarely on the prosecutor who made the decision to charge the kid.


  34. - Kan>Man - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:47 pm:

    The prosecutor is over-zealous in this and they are wrong about the law. You would think a Dem SA in Republican Kankakee would have more sense then this but . . . .nope


  35. - Austin Berg - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 3:58 pm:

    ==Any information for a go fund me for the kid to get some legal help would be great.==

    Be on the lookout for something from us on that front very soon. Thanks.


  36. - SaulGoodman - Friday, Jun 22, 18 @ 4:29 pm:

    **Is it ok to have a cell phone at school and use it?**

    eyeroll…

    What’s the point of this question? Even if it is not “ok to have a cell phone at school and use it” - that doesn’t make it a felony.


  37. - Dog on Sheffield - Monday, Jun 25, 18 @ 8:27 am:

    Would love to see the ACLU pick this up and render the law, as applied in cases like this, invalid as a violation of 1A. Very ripe


  38. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Jun 25, 18 @ 10:22 am:

    ==There really is no reason not to have a one party consent law in Illinois.==

    There are a lot of reasons to have two party consent laws. James O’Keefe, police listening to people without a warrent, employers listening in on employees on their free time, spurned lovers trying to humiliate their exes on social media, etc. This child was in a public place and not doing anything wrong. States Attorney Mark Laws is in error here.


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