Random Student Locker Searches Sparks Controversy - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Random Student Locker Searches Sparks Controversy

Janet Takushi Janet Takushi
Dorothy Douthit Dorothy Douthit
Jon Van Dyke Jon Van Dyke

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Students could soon be subject to drug searches, even if there's no specific reason to suspect them.

There was a lot of friction Thursday night over the issue. Just after 10:00 p.m., the Board of Education decided not to vote on the issue just yet. They sent the plan back to a committee for further review. The Board is expected to take up the issue again in two weeks.

The heart of this controversy: student privacy versus safety.

Inside lockers is a student's right to privacy, according to those against a plan to let principals search students for drugs without reasonable suspicion.

"We want them to have that privacy, it's an important part of personal autonomy to be able to control your private property and to have a private life that government cannot intrude into," says Jon Van Dyke, a law professor at University of Hawaii Manoa.

Supporters of the plan say kid's safety is at stake

"In a society such as ours, there have to be some invasion of privacy for the better good and this is one," says Dorothy Douthit, an assistant professor at Hawaii Pacific University.

"When I was in school the Vice Principal could go anytime into your locker and you knew it so you didn't have anything in your locker that you didn't want looked at," says Janet Takushi, a concerned parent.

Principals already have the power to search students' lockers, but they must have enough proof to do so. Whether to expand their power is now up to the Board of Education.

During the meeting, Van Dyke warned board members - if they decide to go ahead with this plan, they could face a lawsuit.

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