By HDN staff
Recent public service commercials portray a father and son sharing a quiet breakfast together. The silence is broken at the end of the commercial with this message: Another wasted opportunity to talk to your child about drugs. Last spring we watched in terror as the catastrophe at Columbine High School unfolded before us. Teen violence and drug abuse remain a parents worst nightmare. So at first glance anything that can be done to protect our youth from drugs and firearms appears worthwhile. No one wants dope or firearms in our schools.
So we commend the school board and the school district with their zero tolerance approach. The school district has contracted with Interquest Detection Canines of Montana to conduct three to five drug and firearm searches at Havre High School and Havre Middle School for the 1999/2000 school year. The searches will be carried out by a Golden Retriever named Pete and his handler Tanya Godfrey. Pete is hardly the stereotypical vicious police dog of television fiction. The school district has gone to great extremes to keep school time disruptions to a minimum. The district held assemblies to acquaint the students to Pete and his handler and explain the searches.
To the districts credit, it also held two public meetings beforehand, for parents to ask questions and air their concerns. Unfortunately, unlike the student meetings, the parents meetings were not mandatory. It is our opinion maybe parents, like their children, should be required to attend meetings, which discuss drug abuse and violence. Possibly, then searches wouldnt be necessary.
Students and all Americans are protected against unauthorized searches, guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. 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 be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized. Which in a nutshell says individuals can not be searched without reasonable cause.
So the question is, what is probable cause? We know drugs exist in all facets of society. Would we as parents be so quick to submit to drug dog searches at our places of employment? We think most of us would rightfully think them, at the very least, an invasion of our privacy. The district did its part, inviting parents to meetings to discuss the planned searches. Only a handful of parents showed up to discuss this important issue.
The school district owns the lockers. Parents and students have been forewarned about the districts planned searches. Judging by attendance at the public meetings, the school district had little choice. Because the sad fact is the majority of parents are too quick to dump major parts of parenting on the school district at the expense of their childrens constitutional rights.