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Random searches of students passes unanimously

The Knox County School Board voted unanimously to approve random searching of students. The next steps are to have the Law Department issue a legal memorandum then to have a final reading of the policy on November 2nd.

A commenter with good common sense from Volunteer TV’s comments regarding the Knox County School Board wanting to implement random searches in the school (emphasis added):

Posted by: Keri Location: Knoxville on Oct 1, 2008 at 09:46 AM
Are we, as members of a free democracy-protected by a Constitution, going to allow the constitutional rights of our children to be trampled upon? I am as concerned as most citizens about the safety of our children at school, but I am more concerned about the intimidation and conditioning of our children to accept infringements on their rights as American citizens. If we accept policies that not only allow, but encourage the powers that be to randomly search our children, without cause or evidence of wrong doing, how much longer before these policies obscure the rights of every citizen? These children are the future policy makers and leaders of our country and they will lead us based on the manner in which they have been lead. It is time to send a message to our children and the policy makers of our community that we value our Constitutional rights and those who fought and died to secure those rights, far too much to allow anyone, for any reason to strip our children of their liberty. [Source,, Knox Co. School Board considering random search proposal, Keri]

Quit looking for quick fixes and think about the future. Please.

See also: teenagers are not criminals

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Please vote NO to random searches in our schools

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,, 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!