Date: 2009-06-25 04:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seishonagon.livejournal.com
*stares in shock*

Oh.

Well, this will make it more difficult to search students for things which could be immediately dangerous to the entire school.

I wonder if the verdict would have been different if they had actually found pills.

Date: 2009-06-25 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rachelulrich.livejournal.com
13 year old girls do not use their vaginas as spare pockets. Additionally, things that can be immediately dangerous to an entire school tends to be a bit too awkward to put in a vagina, especially an immature 13-year old's vagina.

Date: 2009-06-25 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seishonagon.livejournal.com
A bra, however, can be a very easy place to hide things.

The vaginal cavity isn't in any question here. They didn't do a cavity search of any kind - they just asked her to stretch her underwear to prove she wasn't hiding anything. That would obviously have been way out of bounds for anything involving a child.

I have no objection to blocking strip searches for OTC drugs, or relatively harmless things of that nature. Or on requiring a female nurse or someone like that to do the search. Or getting some kind of warrant before doing it.

But the more restrictions are placed on what schools are allowed to do to ensure the safety of the building occupants, the more students will take advantage of it.

To give a personal example. Just last week, at the school I teach at, we were determined by legal advisers to be unable to search students' clothes to find balloons they were carrying - and in some cases had been heard admitting openly they were carrying - with the intent to fill them with bleach and throw them. They did in fact do this later in the day, and several people were hospitalized as a result, which doesn't even include those with minor injuries, including myself (I have a minor chemical burn from left shoulder to left hip). And this was not in the kind of school where this kind of thing is traditionally reported - this is a high-ranking public school in an affluent area. It can happen anywhere.

Date: 2009-06-26 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] breadandroses.livejournal.com
I'm so sorry that happened to you, that's terrible.

[livejournal.com profile] khava is right, though. This decision has a lot to do with the nature of the contraband and how the school went about it. In a situation like yours, I don't see why they couldn't get a warrant.

Date: 2009-06-25 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] breadandroses.livejournal.com
The language of the opinion (which i haven't had time to read entirely yet) suggests that their opinion was based largely on the fact that there was no indication that the girl in question had drugs in her underwear, and the very private nature of the search. It's pretty clearly been established that schools have the right to search lockers, backpacks, etc. for pretty much any reason, and I'm pleased that the standard is just a little bit tougher for underwear. When you place limits on the authorities' ability to search, this always increases the possibility of missing something, but I think that the increased risk, from the very small chance that someone is concealing something immediately dangerous in his or her underwear, is worth it for this very basic acknowledgment of children's bodily autonomy.

Date: 2009-06-25 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seishonagon.livejournal.com
This is why I have no objection to, for example, a requirement that a warrant of some kind be obtained first.

Also, from earlier coverage of the case, it seems that the girl had in fact bragged about distributing drugs to people and hiding them in her underwear. She later said she was only joking about that information - but at that point, which do you trust? Her earlier comments which made on the assumption that she would not be held accountable for them, or her later comments, which she knew were being heard by administrators? There was no other indication, but I'd call that one an indication.

See my example above, also - the decision doesn't seem to include any allowance for situations in which the safety of others is at immediate risk. What about a student who claims to have a knife under her bra strap, and then retracts the claim? I'm all for children's bodily autonomy, but I'm also all for not having students pull knives in my school - and it has happened at my school.

Particularly in an environment in which security budgets are being cut at the municipal and state levels, there is already a strain on the school's ability to keep people safe. Schools with over 3000 students and miles of hallways are being allotted no more than 3 security personnel for the entire school - meaning, among other things, that if two incidents happen at the same time, only one can be taken care of by security, the other has to be handled by administrators. These restrictions need to be incredibly specific, and have to have some way of being mitigated or worked with if there's a definite possibility that lives are in danger.

Date: 2009-06-25 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khava.livejournal.com
The issue in this case was whether the school could do the search by themselves, without calling police, without getting a warrant, and - this is the key - without any evidence that would create the probable cause necessary to get a warrant. The question was whether the school gets a special authority to do this search *when police would not be allowed to.* Nothing in this decision prevents a school from going through proper channels and getting a warrant that would allow a strip search. Or from calling police to arrest a student and do any search the police would normally do at the police station. This is a case about standardless, discretionary authority to force a teenager to remove her clothes without any legally valid evidence.

Date: 2009-06-25 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tx-cronopio.livejournal.com
So it's illegal but the school is immune from any real liability. Great.

Date: 2009-06-25 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] breadandroses.livejournal.com
Sounds like they shot it back to the lower court to determine liability, so it's not over yet.

Date: 2009-06-25 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khava.livejournal.com
The big deal here is that they established the law, so schools won't do this again. (Or if they do, the next people will get damages.)

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