Maintaining Order and Qualified Immunity – Safford vs Redding Case of Search and Seizure

School Justification to the Search

The fourth amendment in the constitution of the United States protects citizens from unreasonable seizures and searched of their properties by the government officials. It safeguards over arbitrary arrests, and is the law basic regarding safety inspections, stop-and frisk, search warrant, and wiretaps among other kinds of surveillance. It also dictates on the state in which a search warrant should be provided (Law Cornell, 2003). However, the permits qualified immunity among a certain class of governmental or institutional officers.

Qualified immunity creates a balance between two essential interests. They include the requirement to maintain accountability in public offices when officers exercise their power recklessly and the requirement to protect officers from liability, distraction, and harassment when they carry out their roles reasonably. This provision safeguards government officials from alleging lawsuits that they violated rights of plaintiffs, and only permits suits were violated officially based on clearly established constitutional or statutory right. This right is also provide to the teachers as a way of enhancing order in schools. In this regard schools officers are justified to search a student if they have a reason to suspect that the student has anything that can disturb the peace of the institution.

Based on Safford v. Redding, the school management had enough information that there was something fishy going on in the school particularly in grade eight. They also had information connecting Redding with the anxiety. A few students confessed that she was the distributor of the prescribed drugs in the school. Thus, a search was justifiable. However, stripping her naked was inappropriate and violation of her rights as a human being and worse as a child. There were better way to investigate whether she was involved in the supply of the drugs or not other than stripping her.  Though a search to her belonging was appropriate, stripping her and checking in her bra and pant brutally cannot be protected by qualified immunity provision. This was a violation of her rights as a citizen of the country and as a children, based on the fact that this was done even without her parents’ consent. Therefore, in my opinion, the school was not justified to extend the search as far as stripping Savana, though it was justified to search her belonging. Stripping a 13-years old girl without enough evidence such as witnessing her handover the drugs to other students was unreasonable and harmful to the psychological well-being of the involved child.  The school could have investigated the case further  using other means and ensure that they only employ search after they were fully convinced that Savana was involved in drugs distribution in school (Law Cornell, 2009).

Qualified Immunity Existance to School Officials

Qualified immunity safeguards officers performing within the line of their discretionary roles unless their behavior infringes clearly recognized constitutional rights where a sensible individual would have known. In this case, school officers have a duty to maintain peace and order in the school and to protect the public health of all students or pupils in the school. Majority of schools have a history of burying, drug abuse and other misconducts that would threaten the public health within the institution (Hassel, 1999). To protect all in the institutions, school officers need to ensure that student do not report to school with weapons, drugs, and any other object that would create danger to other students. In this regard, school officers require qualified immunity to search students to ensure that the school rules and policies are highly maintained, and all student are protect from any danger that would emanate from other student with criminal traits. However, they should ensure that the search is done within the provision of constitution which states that the search should only be conducted with high level of reasonability (Kirby, 2000).

The Court Precedent

The court precedents give the argument of the two sides based on the constitution guidance on search as provided in the fourth amendment and also based on qualified immunity. Each of the side provides its case strong point trying to justify their stand. As the court develop, the involved lawyers provides convincing points that demonstrates the importance of search in school and qualified immunity provision to school officers. It also tries to guide on the aspects of limited search and where the level of reasonableness is considered right or wrong. The case clearly identify situations when more intrusive search can be harmful to a child and when it should be done despite of its possible harm. In addition, it guides on how search should be done to reduce the level of intrusion.

The aspects that should initiate the need for personal belonging search and individual body search are also identified. In this regard, I do agree with the court precedent since they create a guidance on how search should be handled in schools to protect children, to demonstrate teachers’ upper hand in the school and to protect students’ frequent humiliation through unreasonable searches. This case acts as a guide on how school officers should be have while involved in search related case in the future (Law Cornell, 2009).

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