Federal Appeals Court Upholds Practice of Mass Student Searches & Random Lockdowns by Police & Drug-Sniffing Dogs in Missouri High School

Posted: March 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Random, suspicionless lockdown raids against children teach our children a horrific lesson—one that goes against every fundamental principle this country was founded upon—that we have no rights at all against the police state. Americans should be outraged over the fact that school officials are not only defending such clearly unconstitutional practices but are actually going so far as to insist that these raids are a “standard drill” that will continue. Making matters worse, the courts are actually affirming this dangerous mindset.

For example, in a ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Burlison vSpringfield Public Schools, the court deemed a Missouri school district’s policy of imposing a “lockdown” of the school for the purpose of allowing the local sheriff’s department, aided by drug-sniffing dogs, to perform mass inspections of students’ belongings to be a “reasonable procedure to maintain the safety and security of students at the school,” and not a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of students.

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute had challenged the school district’s practice of conducting random lockdowns and mass searches of students. Institute attorneys had asked the appeals court to reverse a federal district court’s January 2012 ruling that Springfield Public Schools and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of students when they executed the April 2010 lockdown at Central High School.

On April 22, 2010, the principal of Central High School announced over the public address system that the school was going into “lockdown” and that students were prohibited from leaving their classrooms. School officials and agents of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department thereafter ordered students to leave all personal belongings behind and exit the classrooms. Dogs were also brought in to assist in the raid. Upon re-entering the classrooms, students allegedly discovered that their belongings had been rummaged through. Mellony and Doug Burlison, who had two children attending Central High School, complained to school officials that the lockdown and search were a violation of their children’s rights. School officials allegedly responded by insisting that the search was a “standard drill” and policy of the school district which would continue.

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute sued the school district in September 2010 on behalf of the Burlisons and their two children, asking the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to declare that the practice of effecting a lockdown of the school and conducting random, suspicionless seizures and searches violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the similar provision of the Missouri Constitution. In its January 2012 decision, the district court declared that the random lockdown and mass searches did not violate students’ rights. In its ruling issued March 4, 2013, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment, holding that the school’s interest in combatting drug use outweighed the privacy rights of students.

More info on Burlison vSpringfield Public Schools at The Rutherford Institute’s website.

  1. So in other words the court has ruled that everyone is presumed GUILTY of drug use until proven innocent by an unwarrented search. This has been the tragic pattern now for many years now.

    I say fight it all the way to the court of last resort, the U.S. Supreme Court.

    If they too rule that a school board’s “right” to combat drug use “outweighs” every student’s enshrined forth amendment rights to be secure in their persons and effects then that will make things official: Without the consent (or even the knowledge ) of the governed the constitution has been ripped into a thousand shreads. It will end up nothing more than a footnote of history -a memory.

    Nothing will ever improve in this country until we the people start DEMANDING real change (as opposed to the lip service variety we see today.

    The road back to sanity begins with electing honest, ordinary working people, as opposed to rich criminals and self serving crooks. When they cross the line by violating our sacred constitutional rights they should be impeached without delay. This should be done often to show them we mean business. Kick them out immediately -NO EXCEPTIONS.

    A viable third party and voting machines that provide a paper trail (proof) would also go a long way toward helping restore our system. But at bottom the people will end up with the government they tolerate -nothing more.

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