Should "reasonable belief" be better defined?

Dec. 18, 2003, midnight | By Anna Schoenfelder | 17 years, 1 month ago

No: searches protect students

As threats to students at public schools escalate, security measures to protect students are more important than ever. MCPS' search and seizure policy is both necessary and effective in maintaining the safety of students at Blair and countywide.

At Blair, there have been 22 fights this year to date, as opposed to eight at the same time last year (see "Suspensions," page 1). A 2002 Washington, D.C., school system survey revealed that assaults with deadly weapons have doubled in the past four years. This increase in violent crime coincides with a spike in gang activity in America. A U.S. Department of Education and Justice survey showed that the percentage of students reporting gangs present in schools doubled between 1989 and 1995. Because of this marked increase in violence, measures must be taken to control dangerous weapons.

According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, approximately eight percent of teens ages 12-17 reported abusing prescription medications during the past year. This increase in prescription drug use is just one of many reasons why Blair security needs to be at its strongest. A revision of the search and seizure policy would make it harder for security guards to catch students involved in drug trafficking. With violence and drug dealing on the rise, we must allow security guards the freedom to do their job.

Historically, the Supreme Court has consistently placed the safety of public school students over individual freedom. In the case of Vernonia School District vs. Acton (1995), the court held that the school system has both a duty to keep the children safe and the freedom to utilize the tools necessary to maintain that safety. Judge Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority decision that when parents place children in a school system for their education, the teachers and administrators of those schools stand in loco parentis over the children entrusted to them.

The trust between the parents of students and the administration is crucial for a school to preserve. To this end, students' rights cannot match those outlined in the Constitution. Although some argue for students' rights as though they are average citizens, the expectation of safety is actually higher for students. As long as the students are under the supervision of the administration, student safety will always outweigh student freedom.

The security staff at Blair is more than capable of judging when it is reasonable to search a student's body or locker. They have been trained to take cues from students' actions in order to discern whether a student is engaged in dangerous behavior.

In order to maintain the level of safety that is rightfully demanded of public schools, it is necessary to free the hands of the administrators and security guards. Ultimately, students and parents must trust the staff of the school to make judgment calls at times when kids' safety may be in jeopardy.

Anna Schoenfelder. 04 real. Anna is a j-j-j-junior in CAP. She has a litterbox and it is very green. Her favorite activities include spinning, agitating, and mincing. She feels very prickly about the stirrup that she owns. She hopes one day to taste very good, and perhaps … More »

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