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How much authority does a school have to search students/lockers/backpacks?

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youthere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 09:00 AM
Original message
How much authority does a school have to search students/lockers/backpacks?
Here's how it started, Friday a note was sent home from my daughter's jr. high. Apparently a student had come to the office reporting that in the girl's restroom written in the dust it read: "Bome, 2:00 Friday" (I don't know if that's how the note was spelled or an office error...neither would surprise me.)
Parents were assured that it was being handled and there was no cause for alarm. The note said that when the restroom was checked, there was no evidence of the threat.
Then yesterday (Monday) another note was sent home that apparently after school on Friday they found a threatening letter in the same bathroom that appeared to be from a different source. When students arrived at school on Monday, they were searched (depending on the teacher conducting the"search", some students were patted down and asked for pockets to be turned out), their backpacks and purses were looked through and their lockers were searched. The doors were locked as well so that you could exit the school, but had to be let in.
I guess I feel that if the threat they found in the note late Friday was serious enough that they had to resort to these measures, why were classes not cancelled? I also have to wonder about the legality of "frisking" my child and searching through her things and locking her in without my prior knowledge. I brought this up to another parent who said "Well if they don't have anything to hide, they don't have anything to worry about" and I have to tell you, it absolutely made me shudder.
What are your thoughts? My husband isn't happy about the whole situation, but thinks I'm overreacting.
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Dhalgren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 09:06 AM
Response to Original message
1. As far as I can tell, students have almost no rights, at all. The school
"authorities" can pretty much do whatever they want. You do have some recourse, if they go too far, but it is always a "situational call" as to what is "going too far". It sucks in america today...
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 09:08 AM
Response to Original message
2. Searches are nothing new.. In the 60's we routinely
had locker searches.. The only difference was back then they were looking for overdue library books & stale food left in lockers :)

School districts could save themselves a lot of money and time..and students could save many back ailments if they just banned backpacks..

Put a book on every desk, and provide paper & pen/pencils..and give each kid a "home" set of school books, and there's no NEED for backpacks to carry around 40 lbs of books ..

Provide WORKING "personal hygeine" machines in the girls' bathrooms, and you eliminate the "need" for purses too..

If school safety is an issue, remove the NEED for students to carry shit around..

Give them a re-loadable atm-style card for lunch purchases and you have eliminated the need for them to carry anything except a notebook.. No bags, no backpacks, no purses..

That has to be cheaper than oodles of school cops and a bunch of metal detectors :)
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youthere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 09:15 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. All good points.
And you brought up some things I hadn't thought of..(why DON'T those dispensers ever work?)
I can't believe all the "no-brainer" things the school isn't even adressing.
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Sen. Walter Sobchak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 09:22 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. at my school in the 80's
locker searches and drug testing were very selective to make sure they WOULD NOT find anything, and searches were always on "school safety day" after the fire drill but before the highway patrol film strip.

For our Drug Free School status we were supposed to get a visit from Nancy Reagan and some D list celebrities, but the bitch stood us up!
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youthere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 09:31 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. You mean she "just said NO? "
:rofl:
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Sen. Walter Sobchak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. I think the secret service was taking some dictators kids to Disneyland or something,
Edited on Tue Oct-02-07 10:46 AM by policypunk
So there was not enough SS officers to escort her to our school,

Needless to say the entire student body was so upset to miss out on her and the "we don't have to take our clothes off" guy
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High Plains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. Why not just make them walk around naked...
...and use chalk instead of those dangerous pens and pencils?
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Sen. Walter Sobchak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 09:14 AM
Response to Original message
3. depends on the state,
in some states a school could probably waterboard a kid over a missing iPod, in other states physically searching a childs person by school officals is forbidden, searching their belongings is okay.

Unfortunately in these matters schools are given WAY too much slack in what can be considered reasonable suspiscion (not probable cause, a much higher standard) to search a student. The courts basically say "reasonable within the circumstances" which means nothing and everything at the same time.

But at the end of the day a school is going to do whatever the hell the administration feels like and there is little parents can do about it short of a strip search.
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 11:19 AM
Response to Original message
9. Searching lockers has been going on since the 70's!
But frisking students is a new one on me!! The doors of the school should be locked during the day!

I have to be 'buzzed' in by the office, at my local school and the same when my son was in high school.

Did the letter tell you that they were going to be searched?

Maybe they were just trying to find the culprit but most schools do have a search policy, I think.

The body searches worry me though. I don't know if that's legal.

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youthere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. The letters were sent home on Monday afternoon...
the kids were frisked Monday morning.
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. What?? So, they did body searches without your knowledge?
Edited on Tue Oct-02-07 03:20 PM by Breeze54
Do you see anything in the school handbook that allows this?

You should read this!!!

Locker, Backpack & Body Searches

http://www.aclupa.org/education/studentsrightsmanual/pr...

Is the school allowed to search our lockers?

Yes. Even without reasonable suspicion, school authorities can search students lockers, but they must first notify students and give them a chance to be present. This also applies to your desk, because lockers and desks are school property. But that doesnt mean they can search inside any of your belongings that they find inside your locker or desk, like a closed purse or backpack. To search a closed personal container, the school official must have reasonable suspicion that he or she will find evidence of a violation of school rules or the law inside that container.

Can school officials conduct strip searches of students?

Almost never. Strip searches are so intrusive that they almost always violate students privacy rights. But in a few cases, courts have said strip searches were okay because the school reasonably suspected students of hiding drugs under their clothes and there wasnt a less intrusive way to search.

What can we do if a school official or police ask to search us?

If you do not voluntarily consent to the search, there is a possibility that anything found on you cannot be used against you in court or school disciplinary proceedings. If you give your consent to the search, then anything found on you can be used.

If you are asked to consent to a search, you should say that you do NOT consent in a loud, clear voice so that witnesses can hear you. DO NOT physically resist a search, even if you think the search is illegal. That can be used against you later.

MORE---->
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youthere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Thanks...I will bring it up with my district...
Edited on Tue Oct-02-07 03:18 PM by youthere
I understand that the school has a responsibility to follow up on any "threat" but I think a daily search is going a bit too far. I do not think a daily pat down or examination of the contents of her purse is reasonable.
And yes...we were notified "after the fact" of the searches. If I had known that the threat was "serious" enough to prompt these kind of precautions, I would not have sent her to school.
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-02-07 03:18 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Not unless they specifically suspect HER!
Edited on Tue Oct-02-07 03:19 PM by Breeze54
At least that's what the ACLU says. It's illegal!!

They just can't carte' blanch search every kids purse or backpack, only the kids they suspect.
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