Random Locker Searches without Student Permission Searching of lockers by any education staff is not a pleasant experience for either party involved. In fact it would be one less item to think about if schools were to remove them. In today’s high technology driven world we may even be able to get rid of them all together. Just a thought on how to save money! No lockers? Some may still want them to store their personal items along with books (we are going to CD’s rather than books).
This would also cut down on carrying the overstuffed backpacks, purses, and PE clothes that we may have to change into. The reason we once felt safe about our children at the educational setting was because they were there to learn the curriculum, make friends, and eventually become productive individuals upon graduation. Today though there are concerns about student safety due to drugs, weapons, and bullying. The once safe school house is no longer as safe as it once was years ago.
There are resource officers at most middle schools and high schools that are permanent fixtures which in my opinion is something that young adults should not be introduced to at this young an age. The times have changed and so has education, the teacher’s responsibilities-what they can and cannot do, and the students as a whole. So should a teacher have the right to search a student’s locker at random without their acknowledgement? We have to look at the Fourth Amendment- which allows people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The question then needs to be asked, “Does the search and seizure restrictions apply in the public education environment”? This is an interesting question as we must delve deeper into the types of; or restrictions if any that may apply. There have been numerous locker searches at the public school level that have come before a judge in the courtroom. The schools look at the possibility to search a student locker with the ideas of student safety in mind. As a teacher, I would contact my principal and then “leave the ball, in his/her court”.
I have the right to report the possibility of a problem arising, but I do not feel like I have the authority to go any further in the student locker search. The Supreme Court upheld a ruling, in 1985, that under the Fourth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, searches of student property by school officials do not have to adhere to the strict standard of “probable cause” imposed upon law enforcement officers, but rather to “reasonable cause”–to believe that the search will reveal some violation of school rules.
Another case known as “COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant, v. Vincent Francis CASS, Appellee” announced that to balance the limited privacy interest against the need to maintain a safe and secure environment for all public school students, they found that public school students are subject to a search by school officials when the decision to search is reasonable given all the circumstances present at the inception of the search and the search itself is reasonably limited in its scope to the objective which initially prompted the search.
As a teacher I do believe the public school system should maintain any and all control and access to the lockers that are installed. In the position of teacher, I believe that certain school employees should be trained and allowed to inspect student lockers. With this being said, it would be acceptable and wise to have a written policy that explains to all staff their duties in a possible circumstance related to searches necessary to advocate student safety measures.
During my first week of classroom instruction I would alert my students that we do have such an important policy that has been drawn up and implemented. This discussion would be one that would invoke both questions and answers related to the responsibilities and the actions that all parties must take if a locker search is inevitable. In the district that I am associated with the following is in the Code of Student Handbook, that each student and parent is asked to sign at the beginning of each school year. SEARCHES (SECTION 2. 8): A student’s locker, vehicle, purse, backpack, and other personal possessions may be searched if there is a reasonable belief any of them contain drugs, weapons, contraband, or other items not permitted on campus. Trained sniff-screening dogs are allowed in the schools to prevent drugs and weapons. The routine checks by dogs are not considered a search by law. These are safety precautions to provide a safe and healthy school in which to learn. Strip searches of students by school personnel are prohibited.
Nothing in this provision shall be construed to obstruct a law enforcement officer in the performance of his/her duty. I have in the past seen a teacher limit an individual’s rights when it came to a class picnic. There was a pushing incident with two students and each was given in-school suspension. The one girl who was Caucasian was able to sit in class with her peers during music class, while the Black student was given a written assignment and asked to leave the classroom, the same one the Caucasian was in.
I felt this was an infraction on the rights of the one student, not being able to attend the music class, while the Caucasian sat and listened in the learning environment.
References: http://www. acluutah. org/SKYR4. html http://www. ascd. org/publications/educational-leadership/dec01/vol59/num04/The-Right-to-Search-Students. aspx http://caselaw. findlaw. com/pa-supreme-court/1307177. html www. departments. bucknell. edu/edu/ed370/… /cass. html schools. polk-fl. net/rbw/documents/1213COC. pdf