Wednesday, April 22, 2009

YOU Be The Judge!

All too often a story appears telling of school officials having gone a step too far in the name of protecting their students. The case of a thirteen year old girl who was subjected to a strip search for the alleged offense of passing out prescription strength ibuprofen has made it to the Supreme Court.

On the complaint of one student a school official searched her backpack and found nothing. She was then taken to the nurse's office where she had to shift her under garments, exposing herself. No pills were found.

The question is whether it was or was not an unreasonable search. The school officials had not bothered to search her desk nor her locker. They questioned no other students. So of course the young lady must have hidden the pills in her underwear. They did draw the line at searching her body cavities only because school officials had not been trained on how to do so.

There is a lot to be said as to how this incident was handled at the school level. More interesting to me was the discourse that took place at the Supreme Court.

According to The New York Times the Court spent an hour debating what middle school students are apt to be hiding in their underwear and what should be done about it.

I may be missing something here, but if this case had been on my docket I'd have done a bit of research beforehand. Listening to debate over the "ick" factor versus how logical hiding things in under garments would seem, to learning that kids sniff marking pens to get a high, or learning that when one of the Justices was in school he undressed once a day - for gym class, and "things" often found their way into his underwear! This strikes me as a court of the absurd - and the uninformed.

I fully realize today's youth are far more savvy about drugs then I was at their age. Even now for that matter. Where to get them, how to hide them, even how to use them. Those who appear not to be so savvy are the school officials who don't cover the basics before reacting.

Worse yet is how out of touch the Supreme Court seemed to be on a problem that seems to be uncomfortably common. It provided no comfort that the highest court in the land found themselves uncomfortable with the search but were reluctant to second guess school officials who are often confronted with issues involving drugs.

They say "justice" is blind. In this case there's a bit of deaf and dumb in there too.


Margie's Musings said...

Especially dumb.

Anonymous said...

What really concerns me about this, aside from the obvious, is just where were her parents? This girl is a minor and the school authorities had no right to touch her in any way without her parents permission. In point of fact, they had no right to question her without her parents or an attorney present. Yes, children have legal rights as well. We're not talking about "did you hit little Johnny", we're talking of an alledged drug offence. Too many parents, to say nothing of school personnel, ignore the legal and civil rights of children, or worse, are unaware that they exist. As for the Justice and his underwear comment....sheesh! CU