ASCD Responds to the Supreme Court's Student Strip Search Decision
Statement from Gene R. Carter, Executive Director, ASCD
June 25, 2009
ASCD is pleased with today's Supreme Court decision (Safford Unified School District v. Redding) that the strip search of student Savana Redding was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The ruling is a clear affirmation of student rights and a stirring lesson about civics, law, and students' constitutional protections. We are also pleased the court appreciated that the school administrators were acting in the interests of student safety and held that they should not be considered liable because this search issue had not clearly been settled until now.
ASCD has long evaluated educational policies and practices with the question "Is it good for the kids?" We firmly believe this case highlights how intrusive student searches undermine the essential relationship between school personnel and students and their families, which should be built on mutual trust and understanding.
While our first imperative is to maintain the safety of all students, it is equally important to respect student rights and empower young people to make smart choices. Educators have plenty of disciplinary tools and measures to ensure student safety, as well as an obligation to act well before a strip search would ever be needed.
The national attention this case has garnered has unfortunately overshadowed the fact that student strip searches are an extraordinarily rare occurrence in our nation's schools. Skilled educators prevent behavioral issues by teaching students how to make appropriate choices, establishing a strong and trusting school climate, and facilitating an open dialogue between students and adults. When necessary, educators should pursue appropriate and solution-focused disciplinary action with input from parents and students.
In the Safford Unified School District case, the strip search in question made a 13-year-old girl feel alienated from school and ultimately led to her decision to drop out. ASCD commends the Supreme Court for putting students at the center of its decision and stands ready to help educators ensure that all kids are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
- Barbara Michelman, communications director, at 1-703-575-5764, or by e-mail.
- David Griffith, policy director, at 1-703-575-5621, or by e-mail.
Founded in 1943, ASCD is a nonprofit educational leadership association that develops programs, products, and services essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead. We provide expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership. ASCD's membership comprises more than 175,000 principals, teachers, superintendents, professors of education, and other educators from 119 countries. Our association also has nearly 60 affiliates throughout the world.
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