Argumentative Essay

Submitted By smonahan
Words: 1310
Pages: 6

Student Name
Date of Submission
On Preventing the Use of Drugs in School Between one in five and one in three high school students in America have used drugs or alcohol.1 Many of these children see drugs for the first time while they are at school. The ever-increasing problem of teenage drug use can hardly be understated. That is why teachers should have the right to search students for drugs on school grounds. The Fourth Amendment states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons and or things to be seized.”5 Many argue that searching students for drugs violates their Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure.4 However, depending on the state and district, the first ten amendment rights may not apply within school zones. For example, schools routinely censor their newspapers in order that inappropriate or offensive materials not be published. Private and even public schools may also forbid certain types of dress. Outside school, students can speak their mind and dress how they please; within school, some restrictions may apply. In fact, the subject of searching students has been taken to the Supreme Court many times. In the 1985 Supreme Court case New Jersey v. T. L. O., the Court concluded that, given reasonable suspicion, school administrators do not need a warrant or probable cause to search students.2 The requirements of reasonable suspicion are met when (a) there are “reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will reveal evidence”, and (b) the scope of the search is in proportion with the seriousness of the offense. This means that the search should not be “excessively intrusive” in light of the age and sex of the student, or in light of the nature of the crime thought to be committed. The definition of reasonable suspicion has been expanded upon multiple times since 1985. Some of the revisions have been to protect students; some have increased the power of school officials to conduct searches. According to A. S. vs. The State of Florida (1997), if four students are huddled closely together, that does not constitute sufficient grounds to conduct a drug search. But by Bridgman v. New Trier High School District No. 203 (1997), if an experienced drug counselor observes a student to appear under the influence of drugs, he or she is justified in taking the student's pulse and blood pressure. In 2014, if a teacher or administrator is given reasonable suspicion, then she or she possesses the legal right to search students. However, this does not mean that the odor of marijuana in the hallway provides enough evidence for all the students' bags, lockers, and purses to be searched. In addition, we must ask whether the right of a student not to be searched supersedes the right of his or her fellow classmates to have a drug-free school. I argue that it does not. In most cultures, the rights of the many outweigh the rights of the individual. School is the last place on earth where children should be exposed to drugs. The student who brings drugs to school violates the rights of other students not to be in environment where illicit substances are being used and sold. Is a student's individual right not to be searched more important than the collective rights of his classmates to go to a drug-free school? Another argument put forth against the searching of students is the fact that drug searches won't prevent students from doing drugs.4 This is true – a student who is likely to use drugs will most likely use them in a place other than on the school grounds. However, drug searches will at least help maintain a safe campus and prevent the use and sale of drugs at school. By exercising