Tuesday, April 21, 2009

(updated at bottom) For Matt:

But others are free to comment as well!!!! (That was for Andrea.)

Anyway -

Here's the story. In 2003, a 13-year-old girl named Savana was accused by a classmate of having prescription-strength Ibuprofen. Savana was called to the assistant principal's office, where a nurse made her take off all her clothes, then move her underwear aside, to search for drugs. None were found. Savana was a straight-A student who had never been in trouble in school before.

Oh, one more thing - her parents were not notified...

According to her, she didn't question it at the time, because they were people she trusted, and she really wasn't sure what was going on.
Her mother sued, and after several hearings, it is in front of the Supreme Court today.

So what do you think? Did the school have the right to do this? How would you feel if it had happened to your daughter - safer that the school is taking such a stance on drugs, or violated that she was stripped without your knowledge? If you think the school acted appropriately, would you feel the same way if it were a male doing the search?

one article on the story - though if you Google "Savana Redding Supreme Court" you will come up with a lot. I originally heard it on NPR's Morning Edition - it's worth the 8 minute listen.

The Court's decision is not out yet - I'm very interested to see what it is...

Here is an article written this afternoon chronicling the hearing - apparently they expect a decision in June.


Anonymous said...

I listened to the report, but was already aware of it and am livid. If the SCOTUS rules in favor of the school, I'd consider that a valid reason to pull children out and home school them. By the way... on this evening's Fox Report, Katherine Herridge (who doesn't usually show a conservative bias) said that her take was that the Justices appeared sympathetic to the school, and mentioned Souter by name as a swing vote that seemed to be siding with the school.

Jackie said...

I have to think more about this, but my initial response is...
While it is riciculous that they stirp searched her, it is also ridiculous that they had to search her at all. They had to check the one to protect the many, because drugs are a real problem, amongst honor students and those with failing grades. The schools have had to take on the role of parent for many of these kids. I DO think the school should have the parent present for such searches and with a nurse of the same gender. If you want the government to teach your child, then you may have to let the government use it own disciplines.

Anonymous said...

"If you want the government to teach your child, then you may have to let the government use it own disciplines."

This might be true in another country. However, in a representative republic such as ours, the government is nothing more than an "of the people, by the people, for the people" agent.

In our structure, there really is no governmental authority or "disciplines"; only that which represents the people. Therefore, the public schools should represent the values of the citizens it represents. The bigger issue is that the girl was searched without the knowledge of her parents. The gender of the person doing the search has no relevance. Only parents have that authority.

Many people believe they must listen to and obey the government, but it's just the opposite. The government (in this case, the school) is in the position of submission to the people. If the people in this school district won't stand for what's right, then this is no place for children.


Anonymous said...

Finally something to argue about. Maybe you could also have an "Earth Day" post.

Agreed that the parents should be called as a first step. I don't even know why that should be debatable. But beyond that, here's what the misguided "war on drugs" has gotten us- a shredding of the 4th amendment, increased violence, and a marginal affect on drug use. There are so many exceptions to the 4th that it doesn't really exist anymore. If they have probable cause to search, they should have to get a warrant- end of story.


Anonymous said...

OK... I'll take your bait. I remember the first Earth Day. And do you know what the motivation for it was? It was that we were headed toward another "Ice Age", and if we didn't shape up and listen to the environmentalists, the Earth would freeze over. I didn't believe them then, and I don't believe them now.


Anonymous said...

I actually was directing that at Sara, but hey, I'll take yours too.

"the public schools should represent the values of the citizens it represents." -maybe to a degree, but in an issue like this the schools need to respect constitutional limits on their power. Even if the entire population of the school district favors a strip search, that makes no difference.


Anonymous said...

Point taken... sometimes, I tend to think that the electorate will always think constitutionally.


Anonymous said...

"Even if the entire population of the school district favors a strip search, that makes no difference."

To take the idea a step further - even if the population thought that using torture to "get information" was effective and thus good - certainly does not make it right. Its either right or wrong. Its amazing to me to hear people that claim to live "by principles" or "by values" drop those to the side in order to do something that is wrong based on the dignity and human right of individuals! Thats what fear does to us, we'll lay aside any freedom because we're afraid.

It makes me think of those that supported Bush's "Patriot Act," saying things like - "well, I don't have anything to hide..." Again, its either right or wrong. Either the law says you can do it or the law says you can't. In this case, things like "zero-tolerance" rules and and the "war on drugs" has empowered people to violate all kinds of freedoms!

Its not enough to say - "MY kid will never have drugs..." I mean really, is that the standard at this school now? Are they going to strip search everyone without parent approval?

My thought is this - if there was enough suspicion to search this child (and lets not forget that particular point) then the school should have recognized that they were out of their league and involved law enforcement - which should have required a search warrant - which would have involved the parents - and so it goes...

Anonymous said...

You raise some good points, especially about the Patriot Act. I'm still undecided about the torture issue as it relates to two specific points:

1) Is torture always immoral? If I could extract information from someone by slowly cutting off his hand, but that information would save innocent lives, is it immoral?

2) Regardless of the answer to #1, what is torture? Cutting off a hand, waterboarding, stress positions, loud music, denying religious material?

I intentionally used "immoral" in #1, because that is the aspect that I'm interested in- not whether it's right/wrong or legal/illegal.


Anonymous said...

I'll answer more later (I have PT way early here) but I would ask another question - if the information gleaned from concentration camp victims by Nazi doctors saved human lives and furthered medical research - is it immoral?

Does the end indeed justify the means?


Anonymous said...

The short answer to your question is yes, that would be immoral. But that's not the situation here.

But I like your analogy because it highlights that there is not a bright-line rule. For example, a man walks out of a building dragging a person behind him, and in front of a crowd executes him. He then announces he has five more people hid somewhere in the city strapped to bombs set to detonate in three hours. I believe any type of torture would be moral to learn the location of the others, because the man is clearly guilty, personally created the deadly situation, and the connection between the information and saving innocent life is direct.

If you construct a continuum, you could place my situation on one end and your Nazi situation on the other- the torture subject is innocent, he didn't create any deadly situation, and the saving of innocent life, if any are saved at all, is indirect and distant.

The extremes are easy to see, but where on that sliding scale it moves from moral to immoral is a little more nebulous.