Search and Siezure Essay

Submitted By scottehumphrey
Words: 2633
Pages: 11

Child abuse concerns, confidentiality, search and seizure, parental custody, and First Amendment interpretation are some of the main legal and ethical issues facing our school according to my principal and assistant principal. My principal’s previous experiences were as a business owner, college leader, school counselor and church member. He has over thirty years of experience. He highlighted issues of parental custody and student discipline as those that affect our school the most. Reflecting on a recent custody case in which I was called to testify, my principal said, “ it seems the parents often expect the school to take sides.” He explained that both the custodial and non custodial parents have rights. As for student discipline, my principal’s views were in line with what I have learned in class regarding the reasonable suspicion standard. He stated that the police must meet a higher burden of proof than school officials before searching lockers, purses, backpacks, and persons. Student discipline can be defined as following a set of methods or rules of conduct. Still he felt that common sense must be used when following a zero tolerance policy. He said, “zero tolerance does not work for a little first grade student whose mother packed a paring knife to cut an orange or the boy scout who left his whittling knife in his coat pocket after a camping trip. School administrators must determine intent and circumstance and act accordingly.” Common sense must also be used in identifying potential child abuse cases. My principal felt schools have a duty to protect children from abuse, but that doesn’t necessarily include “bad parenting”. If all their basic needs are met, then coming to school in dirty clothes doesn’t necessarily mean they are abused. My assistant principal has been a school leader for two years. She had previous experience as a volleyball coach and mentor to prepare her for her current role. Some issues she cited as relevant to our school include confidentiality and student discipline. She handles most discipline cases for our school. She thinks the best way to resolve these issues are to make sure teachers are aware of the law. She knows confidentiality issues are resolved when there are no complaints from parents or other staff members. Discipline issues are resolved after each case has been investigated and consequences, if any, have been administered. It is always the hope that corrective action will deter future infractions. One way to handle legal and ethical issues is to make sure you have all the facts and that you document everything. She said it is pertinent to report all child abuse concerns to the authorities immediately. She also believes that an occasional search of school lockers and their contents is a good way to deter violation of school rules. Likewise, searches are essential to ensure maintenance of school property and provide greater safety and security for pupils and personnel. In reflecting on my interviews with the principal and assistant principal, who, along with myself, are employed in a public charter school setting, I felt the larger issue facing my school was student discipline. The number of student discipline cases varies each day, but it is a more common concern than others such as dress code (we have a uniform), attendance, tenure (we do not have a union), etc. Our corporate office establishes certain protocol as each new school is opened. Being aware of state and federal laws and educating the staff about investigating and implementing them are crucial to protecting students and everyone involved. Though there are many areas of student discipline, I have chosen to examine search and seizure. With over six hundred students in my school as well as a middle school wing with lockers, it is certain that the knowledge of the laws surrounding search and student privacy versus public