Saturday, January 17, 2009

Supreme Court to Decide Rights of Students

According to the Washington Post and CNN, the US Supreme Court decided on Friday to hear the case involving a strip search of a thirteen year-old (eight grade) student who was suspected of possessing illegal substances. A Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco has previously ruled 8-3 that the search of students by School Administrators is unconstitutional. The family of the student argues that children have the same inherent rights as that of adults. However, if stare decisis is to prove anything, the courts have continuously demonstrated that the classroom is a medium in which the facilitation of education is to be safeguarded for the good of society and the protection of the nations children is of the utmost importance. In order to accomplish this, it is often necessary to create tightened security and a heightened sense of "non-tolerance" to disobedience in the classroom environment. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the School District, policy will be upheld and administrators may be given too much power which may lead to corruption. However, if the Court where to rule in favor of the student and seize the power from the hands of those entrusted with the education of today's youth, we may see an even greater degree of change in educational policy. In a society that strives to excel in a world marketplace and rise above its competitors, a higher level of education is a necessity to which the future of our nation depends. The need to grant individuals a level of leniency in order to administrate in an effective manner, is key to the success in preventing crime from flowing from the local streets into a school that is expected to be a safe-zone for learning. Although the school system in San Francisco might not be considered a "high-risk" area in which strip searches are necessary, an area such as local Newark certainly is. If the Supreme Court establishes policy to make such practices unconstitutional because of a individualized school system, it could very well lead to an unintended negative impact that will only need to be reversed in the court systems in the future.

Just some thoughts to get responses. For further reference:


  1. When I was in high school, which was a private Catholic school, one of my teachers explained that we had pretty much no protection against searches. The reason this came up was because an another student got caught with marijuana in school. The teacher said that we give up our rights everyday when we walk through the doors. She said they can search you, your bags, your lockers, etc... even your car as long as it's on school grounds. Because of this policy, she said, we did not have to walk through metal detectors and other things of that nature.

    If I believe if a teacher has reason to believe a student has something that may threaten the lives of others, they should take the necessary steps to find out. Strip searching, however, is excessive. But I feel schools should do whatever they can to ensure that students like me and you can go to class and feel safe.

  2. Veronica,

    I agree with your reasoning for the need to protect administrators and the statement that "strip searches may be excessive." However, the details of the case are not at them moment exactly well known and it might prove that the student resisted and a strip search was the last avenue which administrators were left to resort to. However, even if this individualized case were to prove more than excessive based on the actions of these individual administrators, I feel that it would be an adverse decision for the Supreme Court to apply a "blanket ruling" which would open a "can of worms" to allow students, and their overprotective parents, to block school districts from doing the jobs they are hired to accomplish.

  3. Great post on an interesting case. You should provide links to the stories online and to the any of the case materials (if they are on FindLaw or another website), as that would help others understand the case.