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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Please vote NO to random searches in our schools October 1, 2008 12:56 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Education, From the mouths of babes, Health, Local Politics, Politics, Touchy Subjects
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I felt compelled to email each of our school board members (and the ACLU) since tonight they will vote to approve random searching of students in our schools. This is the email I sent. Will you send one?

Dear School Board,

Please vote NO to random searches in our schools. Our money and time will be better spent developing a rapport with the students.

These websites informed me that Knox County School plans to pass a measure to allow random searching of students in the schools:


After the Central High School shooting, didn’t security experts advise you that the security cameras were a waste of money and that we’d be better served by having personnel interact more frequently with the students? See this quote from Knox School Matters:

I do not agree, I have a teenage daughter and do not want anyone “doing a pat down” search on her. They had a random metal detector search at Powell the other day and they only ran every 7th kid through it and yelled at the kids to shut up and just go through and dont ask questions. The kids were terrfied not knowing what was going on and being yelled at like criminals. Source, Knoxschoolmatters.com, Cindi

Our students deserve to be treated better than that. The students will not talk to the staff and warn them of impending doom when the student body fears the staff. We gain nothing through fear. In the penitentiary system random searches are to “breakdown” the inmates. Is that our goal? To brainwash and breakdown the children and parents? What legacy will we leave with these children when they graduate and start passing laws for us? For our own safety, will they legalize random searches in our retirement homes? The malls? Our houses?

Random searching is nothing more than theater. It is a waste of staff time, humiliating to the students, and ineffective. Ineffective? The student that wants to bring a gun to school isn’t going to be deterred by the possibility of a random search but I bet that student will be talking and exhibiting behaviors that give warning signs long before the gun comes in. You will pick up on the warning signs by interacting positively with the students. Negativity begets negativity and random searches are very negative.

Random searches at a school are different than random searches at an airport (although equally ineffective and very much theater). At the airport, we have the option to decline being searched and leave. Will our students have the right to decline a search and leave school?

You cannot build trust and safety on a foundation of fear and false suspicion. Please vote no.

Thank you!
Doug McCaughan
phone number

Update: A commenter at Knoxnews has this:

The Supreme Court Case that most directly deals with student searches is New Jersey v. T.L.O (469 U.S. 325). The written opinion states that althought students have not “necessarily waived all rights to privacy in such items by bringing them (legitimate, non-contraband items) onto school grounds,” a search can still be conducted if determined to be “reasonable.” The following describes the factors used to determine reasonableness:

“Determining the reasonableness of any search involves a determination of whether the search was justified at its inception and whether, as conducted, it was reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified the interference in the first place. Under ordinary circumstances, the search of a student by a school official will be justified at its inception where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school.”

In other words, officials must have a reason to search (less cause than suspision) a student. Random selection, by definition, is not a specific reason.

No matter how the school board votes, allowing random searches would be in direct violation of a Supreme Court ruling, and state and county law can not supercede federal law.


[Source, Knoxnews, Knox school superintendent proposes random searches; board to hear plan tonight, zachbest]

Update: No response from any board member. The ACLU called almost immediately!

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