Updated: Thursday, 19 May 2011, 6:37 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 19 May 2011, 6:19 PM EDT
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - School bus drivers could be given the power to search students and their belongings under a proposal before the Vigo County School Board.
Under the proposal, a driver would have to have to have a reasonable suspicion that a student had an item or substance, like drugs or a weapon, that put others on the bus in danger.
The driver would then have to get permission from the school corporation’s transportation department before searching a student’s person or belongings.
“In the case of something that would be life-threatening or a clear and present danger, we want that bus driver to have permission, under certain guidelines, to go ahead and do the search if given permission,” said Ray Azar, director of student services for the Vigo County School Corporation.
Azar said school officials typically prefer to have two adults present when searching a student for contraband, something that cannot always be done when a bus driver is driving his or her bus alone.
Azar also said bus drivers would be trained on proper searching techniques, and he stressed bus drivers would only search a student in an emergency.
As for whether school officials have the right to search students’ property, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled those officials only need to have a “reasonable” suspicion of wrongdoing.
“The search of a student will be justified if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school,” wrote the court in the case New Jersey v. T.L.O. in 1985.
The school board will likely vote on the changes during a meeting in July, Azar said, though members could choose to vote on it sooner.
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