June 7, 2012
Remember our rights
Having safe schools and communities is of paramount importance. As home owners and residents living in the community, we must continually think of more innovative and creative ways to help our local law enforcement and school officials seek out criminals and those people who can cause physical and emotional harm to us, our children, schools and the community in which we call home.
Equally important, however, is operating within the law and protecting the rights of individuals and students, particularly as it relates to the 4th Amendment, which guards us against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In some cases, i.e. public schools, when applying the 4th Amendment it is appropriate and justifiable to perform a student search provided the school officers have reasonable grounds for believing that the search will result in the finding evidence of contraband, firearms, illegal activity, or breaking of the school rules.
Reasonable cause, however, is not “hunches” or “guesswork” by the searching officers. Guesswork and hunches by school administrators forcing innocent students to go to the assistant principal’s office without telling them why, and searching and seizing a student’s backpack and cellphone, and downloading emails and pictures to their computer without calling their parents, violates a student’s rights, and hurts our schools, families and communities.
Young students, put in this uncomfortable position and threatened and coerced to provide information, certainly might comply out of fear, but at what cost and damage? Additionally, school officials demeaning them with harsh words and name-calling causes more emotional damage.
Running a school or business is tough work and I applaud all those who go to work every day to honorably teach our children and serve and protect the community. But we also must be sure we do it within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution, the 4th Amendment, state laws and codes, and school policy or else we are just as guilty as the convicted criminals we work so hard to protect ourselves from every day.
An apology should be forthcoming
Snoqualmie City Attorney Pat Anderson quoted (May 31, page 2) “…all the Your Snoqualmie Valley’ huffing and puffing about SEPA was just so much hot air” smacks of arrogance and a lack of dignified respect for Snoqualmie citizens. Anderson could take a lesson from the Snoqualmie Tribe that respectfully apologized to the community for some noise from its casino. (same issue, page 4).