Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm With The Kid On This One

While I accept without reservation that children don't have the same rights as adults, I also accept without reservation that school administrators should not have more authority than law enforcement officials:

A 13-year-old Arizona girl who was strip-searched by school officials looking for ibuprofen pain reliever will have her case heard at the Supreme Court.

The justices accepted the case Friday for review. They will decide whether a campus setting gives school administrators greater discretion to control students suspected of illegal activity than police are allowed in cases involving adults in public spaces...

The court said the school went too far in its effort to create a drug- and crime-free classroom. "The overzealousness of school administrators in efforts to protect students has the tragic impact of traumatizing those they claim to serve. And all this to find prescription-strength ibuprofen."

In its appeal to the high court, the school district said requiring a legal standard of "probable cause" to conduct student searches would cast a "roadblock to the kind of swift and effective response that is too often needed to protect the very safety of students, particularly from the threats posed by drugs and weapons."

Such a search would be clearly illegal in California, as evidenced by this citation from Education Code:

49050. No school employee shall conduct a search that involves:
(a) Conducting a body cavity search of a pupil manually or with an instrument.
(b) Removing or arranging any or all of the clothing of a pupil to permit a visual inspection of the underclothing, breast, buttocks, or genitalia of the pupil.

Every time I read this I wonder what prompted lawmakers to add "with an instrument" to subsection (a).

Update, 4/20/09: CNN presents some updated facts here.


MikeAT said...

“Every time I read this I wonder what prompted lawmakers to add "with an instrument" to subsection”

Come on Darren…we’re talking the California assembly here! 

Good timing. On Thursday I was in a class on Probable Cause and Searching. The Asst DA went over a case where a suspect was striped searched and they found cocaine in plastic bags between his buttocks. He appealed, saying if he had a reasonable expectation of privacy it was there. In a spasm of common sense the SCOTUS (for those of you who voted for B Hussein Obama that is the Supreme Court of the United States) said as long as they don’t enter the body cavities (anus, vagina) it’s ok.

Our department’s policy (which is more or less what everyone follows) is we can strip search with a field supervisor’s approval as long as we use officers of the same sex and it’s in a private area. Body cavity searches require a court order and have to be done with medical personal in a medical facility.

And I’ll agree with you. Strip searching for ibuprofen is a bit over the edge. Make that way over the edge.

Ellen K said...

Looking for ibuprofen, really? This sounds like another case of blind, zero tolerance overkill. But once again, zero tolerance is the reaction to parents who sue over anything.

Curmudgeon said...

"With an Instrument" must have been intended to avoid the defense of "I didn't actually touch him with my hands, I used a speculum."

Law makers are nothing if not specific. Gets'em in trouble sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like another case for home-schooling.

I've always had headaches, and if when I was a student they would have told me I couldn't have had pain medication with me at school, I would have told them exactly where to get off.

We have let the "powers that be" get away with too much tyranny over the years. It's time for the ordinary people to "push back" and put those pipsqueaks in their places.