Students at a Bucks County School District can be subject to strip searches. According to the Morning Call, a panel on the Palisades School Board voted down the plan, which was put into place in February. But, it still has to go in front of the whole board. The plan would allow school personnel to remove all of a student’s clothes during a search.
Original Article from The Morning Call:
By Charles Malinchak, Special to The Morning Call
A new policy allowing student strip searches was scrapped Wednesday night by a Palisades School Board panel, but the change still must go before the full board.
School personnel can ask students to remove coats, jackets and other outerwear but cannot do pat-down searches, according to a four-member Policy Committee. If a situation calls for a more extensive search, police would be called and take over the investigation.
Though the strip-search policy is still in effect until the full board acts, committee Chairman Stephen Kunket said, “I think what we did was get something cleared up.
In February, the board adopted a policy allowing school personnel to remove all of a student’s clothes during a search.
According to the policy, a circumstance warranting such action would be “reasons for believing that the items being searched for are concealed specifically in undergarments. … That the quantity or nature of the items being sought present a higher level of danger to the school population than other kinds of contraband.”
The policy was questioned by Durham Township resident Stephen Willey at the February meeting.
Willey said after the committee meeting Wednesday, “So they went from full-body cavity searches to this. It’s like night and day. The way it was, there were no limits. They could have forcibly done a full-cavity search.”
Willey said he wonders why the district would have wanted any kind of strip-search policy when none exists in places like New York City, Allentown or the Parkland School District.
Board President Michael Lynch said that however invasive the policy appears, the U.S. Supreme Court allows it.
“What we did was be responsive to our community. The public was clear they wanted something. Others were also very upset that this would be allowed,” he said.
The intent was not to create an intimidating school atmosphere, he said, “but for us to be judicious as a governing body.”
“The culture of the district has been and is collaborative, for staff to engage with students. … Our principals know all their students,” he said.
High School Principal Richard Heffernan said the revised policy “gives us leverage to ask them to take off, say, their jacket, and get the whole incident done quickly, orderly and peacefully without the police.”