Washington State Senate has passed a bill that will allow police to search students without their parents consent, if they are suspected of breaking a school rule. But Greg Link a defense attorney with the Washington Appellate project says that if the bill passes it likely will be struck down.
Senate Bill 5618 adds police to the list of school personnel (Pdf file) allowed to search students without parental permission. Previously school principals, vice-principals and school staff designated by the principal were allowed to conduct the searches. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood.
"These are not necessarily criminal matters," says Aldo Melchiori, a staffer on the Washington State Senate Committee on Law and Justice. "It could be a pack of cigarettes that is against school rules and it could be taken away."
The bill has not yet become state law. The next step is a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for March 14.
Link says if the bill does pass in the Legislature, it will be struck down as unconstitutional.
"I would expect it to be challenged fairly quickly," Link said. "I think it's unconstitutional because it violates both the Fourth Amendment and Washington State law.
"The Washington state constitution says you can't invade privacy without reason to suspect that a crime has been committed," Link says. "Police officers can't just suspicionless searches just because they want to."