Monday, September 25, 2006


DRUG WAR CHRONICLE - In a voice vote, the US House of Representatives
voted to approve a measure that would force school districts across the
country to adopt policies allowing teachers and school officials to
conduct random, warrantless searches of all students at any time based
on the "reasonable suspicion" that one student may be carrying drugs or
weapons. The Student Safety Act had no committee hearings and was
fast-tracked to the House floor.

Actually, the bill does not offer a blank check for searches, it forces
them down school districts' throats. According to an analysis of the
bill by the Congressional Research Service, it "requires states, local
educational agencies, and school districts to deem a search of any minor
student on public school grounds to be reasonable and permissible if
conducted by a full-time teacher or school official, acting on any
colorable [changed in the final version to "reasonable"] suspicion based
on professional experience and judgment, to ensure that the school
remain free of all weapons, dangerous materials, or illegal narcotics."
And just to make sure school districts get the message, the analysis
notes, the bill "denies Safe Schools and Citizenship Education funds,
provided under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, to
states, local educational agencies, and school districts that fail to
deem such searches reasonable and permissible."

While Democrats spoke against the bill in debate Tuesday night, none
took the simple step of asking for a roll-call vote, which might have
resulted in a defeat for the measure. Since the bill was fast-tracked,
it required a two-thirds vote in the House, and it is not clear that the
bill could have reached that hurdle had members been forced to vote on
the record. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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