Monday, September 18, 2006

Vote on school searches bill tomorrow!!!

Take action now!!!! Send a letter to Congress today!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 18, 2006
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 293-4414 or tom//at//

Congress to Vote on Expanding School Drug Searches

Controversial Bill Skips Committee, Goes Directly to Floor

WASHINGTON, DC – The leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives on
Tuesday will bring to the floor a bill allowing school officials and
police greater authority to search public school students for drugs.
Despite the bill’s controversial nature, House leaders are skipping the
committee deliberation process and are bringing the bill directly to the
floor in an attempt to give its sponsor, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), a
victory to tout during his difficult reelection bid this November.

“It’s offensive that Congress is playing politics with students’
dignity,” said Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible
Drug Policy. “We’re tired of having our constitutional rights trampled
on by the War on Drugs. We demand drug policies that respect and
protect us.”

The bill, “The Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006,” H.R. 5295, would
allow schools to search groups of dozens of hundreds of students on the
mere suspicion that just one of them has drugs. Similar justification
allowed police officers to storm a high school in Goose Creek, SC, in
2003, forcing dozens of students to the ground and pointing loaded guns
directly at their faces during a widely-criticized raid in which no
drugs were found. The school’s principal resigned, and the school
district and the police department paid over one million dollars in a
lawsuit settlement this July.

Because of the House leadership’s legislative maneuvering, only 1/3 of
House members present need to vote against the bill to defeat it.

In addition to granting schools the ability to carry out expanded drug
searches on administrators’ impulses, the bill mandates that school
districts specifically adopt written policies allowing such searches,
under threat of losing federal anti-drug funding.

The original version of the bill invented a new looser class of evidence
required to justify searches, called “colorable suspicion,” but due to
SSDP’s lobbying efforts to date, the language has been scaled back to
stricter “reasonable suspicion” in the version that will be voted on
this week.

More information about the bill, as well as video of the 2003 Goose
Creek raid, is available on SSDP's blog.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots network
of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our
communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our
generation and our society. SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to
participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to
achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against
counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly
harm students and youth.

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