How much control should a teacher have in students’ dress, or hair color, or personal affairs outside of school? Some people say they should have no control or no say in what students do. I disagree with this statement. Teachers sometimes spend more hours with children than their parents do and they need to have some sort of authority when it comes to the students. This essay will explore the act of conducting unauthorized locker searches. Do teachers and school officials have a right to do this? Absolutely. Students need to feel safe while at school and not have pressure from drugs or violence. Locker searches are one way to help ensure this.
As a teacher, there are certain expectations you must uphold. While in school, you are responsible for the safety and well being of all students in your care. This also includes keeping students safe from drugs and violence. Random locker searches are an effective way to help get drugs and weapons out of schools, and deter students from bringing them in the future. If students are aware that random searches may happen, they are less likely to take the chance of getting caught and will in turn not bring these types of items into the school. Not only does this protect the students, but it also protects the teachers and other faculty members as well.
Some would argue that this is an infringement of a students’ right to privacy. A rule approved by the Board of Education states that “students have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their persons” on school grounds (Good vote on school locker search, 2009). This means schools officials may not search each individual. They may only search school grounds and school lockers. Students are not subject to strip searches as this also violates their privacy. But there is no expectation of privacy when dealing with school lockers, so no infringement has occurred.
When I was in high school we had random locker searches and I was always in favor of them. All the students knew which kids had drugs but no one wanted to be the one to tell on them. Random locker searches eliminated that pressure from the students. It was now out of our hands. A friend of mine was once suspended for having marijuana in their locker. I knew it was in there, but did not want to be the one to tell on my friend. I was actually very relieved when he got caught. There was no more pressure on me and those drugs were out of the school.
Furthermore, I believe that teachers have the responsibility to protect the needs of the many over the needs of the few. Even if some feel that this is an infringement of students’ rights. School officials need to make sure students have a productive learning environment that they can come to everyday. Students should not have to go through their school day wondering if someone is going to offer them drugs, or if someone will have a gun or knife. The parents that are opposed to random locker searches would not feel the same way if their child got hurt because someone had brought a weapon to school.
However, there are some situations where students’ rights outweigh the teacher’s responsibilities to maintain a safe learning environment. One example would be a student with HIV or AIDS. School districts limit the sharing and use of student health information to those legitimate educational purposes for which the information was obtained and to those purposes made explicit at the time consent was given (American School Health Association, 2010). HIV related medical facts about students are always strictly confidential. Even if a teacher feels that the other students and parents should know if another student has AIDS, they are not allowed to disclose this information. The right of the student to have their medical records stay confidential definitely outweighs the teachers concerns.
Every case is different and courts have rules in favor of both sides concerning teacher responsibility and student rights. The bottom line is that students need a safe, productive, healthy environment to be able to get the best education possible. Taking steps to eliminate illicit drugs and dangerous weapons in schools is an excellent way to help ensure this. Any parent with a child in school should be more concerned about that then if their child’s rights were upheld. If it is a matter against my child’s rights being infringed upon or my child potentially being harmed, I would choose infringement every time.