Saturday, June 10, 2006

Failing Constitution 101

James Schultz is teaching students at the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School a valuable lesson in fascist dictatorships. In a most egregious decree, the district’s superintendent has demanded that the district’s young adults sign a waiver forfeiting their right to privacy before allowing them to park their vehicles on school property, according to an article appearing in the Schenectady Daily Gazette. In typical secretive fashion, the district's Board of Education made sparse mention of this sweeping change in their minutes.

Here's the crux of the situation: Schultz has decided that a student’s vehicle is the same thing as a student’s locker, at least when such said vehicle is parked on school grounds. And given this fact, he believes that any student vehicle should be subject to search at the whim of any faculty member.

“There is a misconception among students that they have a right to privacy in their lockers,” Schultz told a Gazette reporter Friday. “In fact, the courts have held that lockers are the property of the school and can be opened.”

Aside from noting obvious ownership discrepancies in this comparison –there aren’t too many districts that provide students with complementary cars –one could also point out to the superintendent that few high school lockers can go zero to sixty in under a minute on the freeway. But an even more obvious question to ask is why faculty members can't simply call up the cops and have them search a student's vehicle when there's suspicion of criminal activity within its confines?

It should be noted that even police, bound by laws clearly spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, must either get an individual waiver from a suspect or seek what’s known as a search warrant based on probable cause prior to conducting a search. For any district Board of Education member, this fact alone should have quashed this asinine rule, which could conceivably drag the school into a lengthy, costly and highly publicized federal lawsuit in the very near future.

More importantly, however, is the message Shultz is hammering home to impressionable students at a time when society appears on the brink of falling into police state: don’t hide behind your flimsy little constitution, because those aren’t our rules.

Hopefully, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake students will tell Schultz where he can cram his waiver and stage at the very least, a moderate resistance to his ridiculous assertion that private vehicles are somehow public property. At the very least, their parents –the district’s taxpayers –should respond to this outrage by voting every last school board member who rubber-stamped this policy out of office, which would be the first step to ousting Schultz.

And feel free to drop Schultz a line to voice an opinion about his public urination on the most basic of Fourth Amendment rights.


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9:45 PM  

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