Case Law Trends against Student Rights
Although the Supreme Court in Vernonia (1995) expanded the types of “searches” found to be “reasonable,” particularly in permitting school authorities wider latitude in addressing the drug problems in their schools, it did not abandon the T. L.O. tests of “reasonable in inception and scope.” But there is no escaping the conclusion that any remnant of a requirement of individualized suspicion as the prerequisite for a search has thoroughly faded. Rather, the clear direction of the courts is to uphold any school policy that is based on a known problem, whether or not any specific student has been found to be a part of that problem.
Other suspicionless searches, such as those by metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs, as previously discussed, will probably become more broadly permissible as well. The Federal and state courts have indicated that student drug possession and presumed or actual usage, without violence or coercion is, in itself, a direct threat to school safety; therefore, the intrusion of mandatory drug testing, at the least, is permissible by school authorities. Some commentators have concluded that, afterVernonia, suspicionless searches of all types will be easier to justify and will only require that school authorities’ search actions are “reasonable,” a requirement they can easily fulfill by merely acting to ensure a safe learning environment. Henceforth, the effort to balance student rights with school safety needs, and the ensuing detailed application of the two-prong T. L.O. test, may become eroded further or actually discarded. It is suggested that Vernonia’s “reasonable” standard would be met simply by educators’ knowledge of the current campus environment; given acceptance of the connection between student conduct and unsafe learning conditions, policies to correct unacceptable conduct will likely be legally sanctioned (James & Pyatt, 1995).
It would, therefore, be difficult to imagine a suspicionless search that would not meet the “reasonable” standard. It is also surely a giant step further away from the full application of the Fourth Amendment to students. The shadow of the Fourth Amendment that still protects students is certainly not as long as that cast in the direction of citizens who are not students. Further, the Vernonia Fourth Amendment standards no longer encompass an objective and balanced weighing of the interests between student rights and school safety needs, as has characterized the previous line of Supreme Court cases. From this point forward, it is realistic to assume that the Supreme Court will permit school authorities to put their fingers on the scales of justice, as they will be judicially supported in tilting the weight towards their broadened powers.
FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
While Vernonia broke new and startling ground in apportioning power and rights between schools and students, another very recent Supreme Court case, U. S. v. Lopez (1995), sets some limits on the untrammeled exercise of schools’ rights to respond to perceived safety concerns. In its 5-4 decision, the Court found that the constitutional justification for the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act was unpersuasive and therefore ruled that this Federal law, banning the possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, is unconstitutional. Without defending the possession of firearms within school areas, this decision did limit the reach of the Commerce Clause of Article l of the U. S. Constitution, finding that claims of increased school violence could not override an absence of a constitutional basis for the disputed Act. The Federal government and four dissenting Justices had advocated the retention of the Act, urging the court to affirm their claim that the Commerce Clause permitted such legislation, since the disruptions caused by gun violence in schools or school areas diminished students’ ability to learn and teachers’ abilities to teach, which adversely affected the nation’s productivity and therefore made this issue one of commercial concern (U. S. v. Lopez, 1995, p.888; Gun Free School Zones, 1995).
The majority, however, did not define the issue as the advisability or necessity of instituting gun free zones around school areas, a goal with which any concerned citizen could agree; rather it focused on the viability of the constitutional argument offered by school authorities to lawfully justify its delineation of such zones. As noted, in a rare case of prioritizing constitutional lawfulness over school authority assertions of safety needs, the court disagreed with an unbounded definition of commercial interests subject to the Commerce Clause. The court’s position was so rare, in fact, that Lopez was the first time in nearly 60 years that the Supreme Court overturned an act of Congress that had a direct effect on private activity, based on its commerce power (Epstein, 1995). Ameliorating some of the imbalance between the proper allocation of rights and authority in recent decisions, the Lopez decision does offer some hope that the mere assertion of schools’ needs to control violence will not override all considerations of students’ individual and group rights to be treated as citizens under the Constitution.
With respect to students’ rights in school, the current juridical direction of Fourth Amendment law is of the most dubious legal, historical, and societal merit. It highlights society’s fears of and disrespect for children and the paucity of alternatives to police-type enforcement measures under consideration in the schools, and indicates that school authorities are no longer willing to grant students even a semblance of the civil rights and civil liberties the rest of the nation’s citizens consider inalienable. The first line of defense of school administrators is to bring in more military measures, with car searches, metal detectors, urine analyses, and drug-sniffing dogs. The cases reported here, as well as many others not discussed, share a tenor of frustration and hysteria on the part of administrators to stop the violence and drugs, by any means necessary. What is also sensed in the many reported cases is that the only techniques tried were those of law enforcement.
There is, however, a wealth of information and experience about alternatives to police-type school violence prevention strategies. Law-related
education (LRE) is a fresh approach to reducing the causes of school violence early and continually throughout a students education. It is a generic, interdisciplinary direction to education combining particular kinds of content (related to rules, laws, and legal systems) with interactive instruction, adaptable to any grade level and intended to continue through all grade levels. The core of LRE is problem-solving, both as part of a group process and on an individual basis, since social conflict is at the core of both school violence and the legal issues that arise from it. Its aim is specifically to instill non-aggressive social problem-solving abilities, while also helping students become good citizens. Its method is to integrate into all curricula illustrations of common, student-relevant issues in the context of legal rights and responsibilities (McBee, 1995).
Law-related education is related to student conflict resolution and mediation training, including student courts. All of these initiatives provide early and constant education and experience, for grades k-12, in nonviolent means of violence prevention. Their programs and wide success have been well documented. Peer counseling has also proven effective in breaking the impasse between violent students and the school system. In a study of 600 Atlanta high school seniors and their parents by Emory University
Medical School, 70 percent of the subjects said they would confide in a friend, more than three times the percentage who would confide in a parent, for example (Sachnoff, 1988). Using trained students as helpers, friends, counselors, mediators, and educators to ease the school tensions and conflicts that result in violence is a more educational and effective first line of defense against school disruptions and crime than are police-type interventions.
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School uniforms Currently in America an on going debate continues regarding a uniform policy suggested to public and private schools. This develops into a controversial issue because valid argument exist on both sides. Giving this issue much thought has lead me to believe that making school uniforms mandatory would help the school systems. School uniforms would help Searches by drug-sniffing dogs The mere possession, without use, of drugs on school grounds has been discussed as a threat to school safety and security in case after case, without examination or citation of any evidence of a causal effect between drug possession and unsafe schools. The perception of the inherent and overwhelming danger of drugs to school safety Violence as an impediment to education The Justice Department (1991) corroborated the NSBA (1994) study stating that 82 percent of the school officials surveyed believe school violence has increased in the past five years, especially student-on-student violence.
Violence or the threat of violence has a direct impact on the quality of education provided and on the way teachers and students work together Which of these two school policies do you think is better? Some high schools require all students to wear school uniforms. Other high schools permit students to decide what to wear to school. Which of these two school policies do you think is better?
I think that the issue about whether all students must be required to wear school uniform is the one that is School Uniforms Sample essay topic, essay writing: School Uniforms - 495 words
School Uniforms Currently in America an on going debate continues regarding a uniformpolicy suggested to public and private schools. This develops into acontroversial issue because valid argument exist on both sides. Giving thisissue much thought has lead me to believe that making school uniforms mandatorywould help