|← Legal Ethical Issues in Health||First Exam 2011 Criminal Law →|
According to the Fourth Amendment of the American Сonstitution, the citizens have a right to be secure in their persons, effects, papers and houses, and against unreasonable searches and seizures. In this amendment, all arrests, warrants and searches have to be sanctioned by a judicial officer, and of course with a probable cause.
When Savana Redding was methodically and humiliatingly searched by school officials, it raised the thorny question of how much leeway should be granted to school authorities in policing zero tolerance to drugs and violence. It also raises important issues with respect to the boundaries and restrictions of the fourth amendment and the privileges given to students in public institutions, i.e. what are the limits placed on administrators regarding the students' right to privacy, and what should they know before conducting searches on school grounds.
According to the fourth amendment, the authority of minors is transferable, from the parents and/or guardians when they are placed in the custody of others quite often in schools, and this is referred to as loco parentis. Its worth to note that school officials, meaning teachers and administrators, are then responsible for the students entrusted to them, and it is therefore their duty to restrain and correct them as necessary for their safety and general security.
As public schools constitute an arm of the government, the transfer of authority then implicates constitutional concerns as when privacy interests are implicated, the right to privacy of a student hangs in a balance, since on one side there is the society trying to provide a safe and conducive learning environment for all, while the other side holds the constitutional right of the students to be secure in their person, papers and effects against all unreasonable searches and seizures that are conducted in public schools.
According to the United States Supreme Court, every school child has legal expectations of privacy while at school as regards to personal items they carry to the school compound. They should however balance this expectation against the concerns of the society regarding safety and a conducive learning environment. It is imperative; however, that the administrators have the freedom to maintain order and discipline in schools as the Supreme Court concluded that it is not necessary to strictly adhere to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment when school officials are carrying out searches.
This brings me to the opinion that the search conducted on Miss Redding was in direct violation of the principles of human dignity. The search might have been in line with the school's policy of intolerance to prescription drugs; hence the school was in all means justified in searching Miss Redding, but the officials overstepped their authority in strip searching Savana.
This however poses a problem in the future relations between school administrators and the students, as the ruling of the Supreme Court will have an impact on the enforcement of discipline in schools. It will now be harder for school administrators to enforce discipline as they will do it in fear of legal implications in any case that the student feels their right to privacy has been violated. Legal action may taint the name and publicity of the school, affecting the overall performance of the school, the school's finances due to withdrawal of students. It will also impact on the credibility of the school's management.
When school officials search students for any prohibited items, they should do so decently, to avoid violating the privacy rights of the students. In overstepping their authority they risk facing legal action, as set by Miss Redding's precedent.