Action is needed here. There is a bill affecting the rights of students at school to be searched - moving through the Legislature.
This bill, SB 6023, wants to "include searches by school resource officers and local police school liaison officers within the warrantless school search exception."
In the runup to the this week's legislative deadline (policy bills need to make it out of committees by Friday in the state senate), the Republicans unilaterally pushed a bill through the law and justice comittee today that jeopardizes the civil rights of students accordig to the ACLU.
"This is the 'policization' of our schools," ACLU lobbyist Shankar Narayan said coining a term he likened to militarization.
The bill, sponsored by GOP Sens. Steve O'Ban (R-28, University Place) and Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn), would allow law enforcement officers to conduct searches of students without first obtaining a warrant.
Some background: Teachers and school administration are allowed, with the imprimatur of a U.S. Supreme Court 4th Amendment exception, to search students and their lockers if staff has a "reasonable suspicion," for example, that they'll discover drugs or weapons.
However, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the SCOTUS exemption does not extend to non-school officials such as cops. The Court acknowledged that other states have extended the exemption, but simultaneously noted that those decisions were based on the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment, explaining that Washington's constitution has a stronger privacy provision; check out Article 1, Section 7 of the Washington's constitution: "No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law."
Proponents of the bill, such as the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, argued during testimony that it makes no sense that a janitor can search a student's locker, but a law enforcement officer cannot.
Narayan's rejoinder: "If a janitor can do it, then a janitor should do it." Narayan's larger point: "Students don't surrender their constitutional rights at the school house gate."
I urge you to write to your legislator and tell them NO to this bill.
I note that a previous bill, HJF 4209 ,wanted to "amend the state Constitution to allow a reasonable suspicion standard in certain searches of students on school grounds." Amend the state constitution to give students fewer rights?