Monday, September 18, 2006

Bill to require searches of students by teachers on House floor

The National PTA has joined the School Boards association, the School Administrators association, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy in opposing H.R. 5295, the "Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006."

This bill is the brainchild of Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) who is facing a stiff re-election battle. He convinced the House leadership to schedule to a vote on the House floor September 19. The bill has all of 11 co-sponsors in the 435 member House.

The bill has never been subjected to any hearings nor considered by the Committee to which it was referred, the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Even though it purports to interpret the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment regarding searches, it was not referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

The guts of the bill is the following:


    (a) In General- Each State, local educational agency, and school district shall have in effect throughout the jurisdiction of the State, agency, or district, as the case may be, policies that ensure that a search described in subsection (b) is deemed reasonable and permissible.

    (b) Searches Covered- A search referred to in subsection (a) is a search by a full-time teacher or school official, acting on any colorable suspicion based on professional experience and judgment, of any minor student on the grounds of any public school, if the search is conducted to ensure that classrooms, school buildings, and school property remain free of all weapons, dangerous materials, or illegal narcotics.


    (a) In General- A State, local educational agency, or school district that fails to comply with section 3 shall not, during the period of noncompliance, receive any Safe Schools and Citizenship Education funds after fiscal year 2008.
Notice the key term, "colorable suspicion." Colorable is defined (Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.) "1. seemingly valid or genuine 2. intended to deceive: COUNTERFEIT"

In other words, teachers are directed to search students if they have a phoney suspicion. The bill authorizes mass searches even if only a single student might be suspected.

And finally, any state, or school district that does not enact this plainly unconstitutional policy shall lose all their federal Safe Schools funding assistance.

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