The House approved a bill last week aimed at making it easier for teachers to search lockers and other student property on public school grounds for drugs, weapons, and other hazardous materials.
The legislation, approved by unanimous consent on Sept. 19, was sponsored by Reps. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., Mark Steven Kirk, R-Ill., and John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr., R-N.Y. Under the measure, schools that fail to allow teachers to conduct such searches could lose federal Safe Schools and Citizenship Education funds.
The bill notes that, under U.S. Supreme Court precedents, public school searches of students must be based on “reasonable suspicion.” Searches by teachers and other school officials would be considered reasonable if they were based on “professional experience and judgment.”
Rep. George Miller of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, expressed concerns, saying in a statement that the measure could interfere with state and local laws regarding school searches.
The bill was sent to the Senate, where it was referred to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
A version of this article appeared in the September 27, 2006 edition of Education Week