'Colorable' = Red Eyes'Reasonable' = Red Eyes + Bad Attitude

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Yesterday, Students for Sensible Drug Policy reports, the House approved the Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006, which threatens to withhold federal funding from public schools that do not allow broad student searches for flimsy reasons, by a voice vote. The bill applies to any "search by a full-time teacher or school official, acting on any reasonable suspicion based on professional experience and judgment, of any minor student on the grounds of any public school, if the search is conducted to ensure that classrooms, school buildings, school property and students remain free from the threat of all weapons, dangerous materials, or illegal narcotics."

An earlier version of the bill used the newfangled standard of "colorable suspicion," which I reasonably suspect would have amounted to little more than a hunch. The new standard is stricter in theory, and the bill stipulates that "the measures used to conduct any search must be reasonably related to the search's objectives, without being excessively intrusive in light of the student's age, sex, and the nature of the offense." Would this allow a mass search of the entire student body if, say, a teacher suspects that one or two kids have been smoking pot and is determined to root out the school's marijuana ring? No doubt these details will be settled in litigation. Since such litigation can be costly, it's not surprising that the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association have come out against the bill.

NEXT: Watching the Walls, or, Hooray for the Two-Party System!

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  1. Some would argue that “colorable suspicion” has been the MO of the War on Drugs for the last 30 years…

  2. reasonable suspicion based on professional experience and judgment

    I still don’t see how this amounts to anything more than a hunch. Just what in a teacher’s professional experience gives them the judgment to determine who is or is not “in possession of weapons, dangerous materials, or illegal narcotics”? A few 1-hour seminars given by the same law enforcement institutions that have a vested future in the continuing WOD sure won’t.

    Couldn’t they come up with a vaguer term than “dangerous materials”?

  3. Well, there goes the last vestiges of the Bill of Rights for minors. Students speach is censored, their property invaded w/o warrant, not to speak of their rights to self defense (even defending your self from assault w/o a weapon is as harshly penalized under “zero-tolerance” policies as commiting the assault). Minors are once again second-class residents.

  4. Hey Jacob, far be it from me to defend any teachers union, but do you really think green colored dreams of litigation fees are the only reason they opposed this? To me, looking back on mypublic shool experience, and talking to my friends who are teachers now, this would seem to comport with experience. Many teachers already know a helluva lot goin on in school and dont do anything about it until it really starts to get out of hand. Seems like kind of a cheap shot.

  5. This has been old news for 20 years

    see – New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)

    man, that’s cool; 14yr old weed-dealing suburban girl. I wish i’d known her.

    I think the difference between what is proposed and what already exists in law is that now they want to remove the need to have at least some reason for the search.

    JG

  6. Hey Jacob, far be it from me to defend any teachers union, but do you really think green colored dreams of litigation fees are the only reason they opposed this? To me, looking back on mypublic shool experience, and talking to my friends who are teachers now, this would seem to comport with experience. Many teachers already know a helluva lot goin on in school and dont do anything about it until it really starts to get out of hand. I guess their is some disconnect between an average teacher and the union leaders, but still seems like kind of a cheap shot.

  7. If anyone should be kept safe, it’s student teachers.

  8. i got busted for sellin pot in Port Richmond HS in ’65.
    Its as stupid now as it was stupid then. the effort put in to getting busts by corrupt narks has only mushroomed from a cottage industry to Big Business, indeed.

  9. Gee, what kind of searches, and what kind of reasons would be given for those searches, by teachers such as John Mark Karr?

    Yeah, this is a GREAT idea…..(not)

  10. Oh come on, Reason! How can you be against student and teacher safety? What, you don’t want students or teachers to be safe? Shame on you!

  11. Minors are once again second-class residents.

    Not. Seventh or eighth class maybe.

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