Probable Cause

October 24, 2016
Kenny Um  Flintridge Prep  10th Grade

Kenny Um
Flintridge Prep
10th Grade

Every day, more than three million students attend high school across the US, putting more burden on the schools to educate and protect their students. This “safety” in schools is facilitated through the standard of reasonable suspicion, which means that schools can apply searches to students when they feel “suspicious,” and requires only a moderate chance of finding evidence of wrongdoing. However, as a student, I feel that this standard creates more problems than it resolves.

Firstly, the mere definition of what a teacher considers “suspicious” leaves room for a substantial amount of variability. In fact, according to the Harvard Law Review “Studies show that racial disparities are largest where the offense-be it a violation of a school rule or a law-requires a subjective determination, that is, something like “Disturbing Schools” rather than “weapon possession.”So, because of this subjective determination, minorities are disproportionately discriminated in our status quo. One of the school’s top priorities is to create a “safe, learning environment.” However, this institutionalized racism impedes on the minorities’ education, and also their health. According to the Wisconsin Department of Education, racism in schools hurts both the individuals and the learning and working environment. By narrowing the educational experiences of minorities, racism affects not only the school climate, but also the school-community relations.

In addition, according to The Atlantic, discrimination has been shown to increase the risk of stress, depression, the common cold, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and mortality. All these downsides should encourage the public school systems to use the more than standard, probable cause. Probable cause, according to Danna T. Bedden from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, is where known facts and circumstances, of a reasonably trustworthy nature, are sufficient to justify a man of reasonable caution or prudence in the belief that a crime has been or is being committed. Because this standard requires more evidence before conducting a search on students, this leaves out any possibility for racial bias and subjective determination, which is why, in my opinion, balcschools, should prioritize this standard over reasonable suspicion.


One Comment

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