Good grief: can we work anywhere anymore without giving up our basic Constitutional rights? Mr. Ehrisman alerts me to the Sioux Falls School District's effort to nullify the Fourth Amendment for its teachers:
The local teachers union opposes a proposed policy that would allow Sioux Falls School District administrators to search employees' private cell phones, purses and vehicles for suspected violations of district policy.
If adopted as written, a supervisor would need only "reasonable suspicion" of a policy violation or crime in order to search any personal property an employee brings to school. The union argues the standard should be "probable cause," in which case only police officers with a warrant could conduct a search [Josh Verges, "Teachers Wary of Search Policy," that Sioux Falls paper, 2011.03.20].
Oh, there go those darned unions again, trying to destroy America and capitalism by talking about silly things like fundamental human rights.
The prospect of school administrators riffling through a teacher's smartphone apps, messages, and passwords ought to raise the same privacy alarms that motivated some opposition to the driving-while-texting ban during the Legislative session. The concerns ought to be even greater here, as we are talking not about police enforcing investigating violations of law but school employees with minimal legal training investigating mere school policy violations, not by kids, but by teachers, by fellow professionals whom we purportedly trust and admire.
I suspect this proposed search and seizure policy is an outgrowth of Nicholas Jastorff hysteria. I would suggest that if school administrators have concerns that a teacher may be conducting an illegal relationship with students, the school still needs to notify law enforcement and let the cops handle searches with a warrant issued by a judge who sees those concerns rising to the level of probable cause.
I would also suggest that unconstitutional policies like the at-will search of personal property by your boss will only make it harder for folks to justify putting up with the low pay and long hours of teaching.