School principals fear they could soon be powerless to confiscate weapons and illicit drugs from pupils, under changes to the Education Act.
The Education Amendment Bill, now before Parliament, includes changes to the surrender, retention, search and seizure powers held by schools.
Under the proposed changes, teachers would not be allowed to search pupils or their property but would be able to search property owned by the school, such as lockers and desks.
Dogs would no longer be allowed to search schools for drugs, and schools would not be able to test pupils for drug use.
Schools could suspend pupils for refusing to hand over a weapon or drugs.
Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses said the impact of the bill was still unclear, but any move to reduce schools’ ability to search and seize could make them less safe.
“If contraband of any kind is brought into the school we want the ability to search for that stuff. It is going to make it more difficult for schools to police internally.”
I’ve blogged on this before, and I agree with the concerns of principals.
I think the right to privacy should be limited when applying to students on school property. Generally, if you don’t want something discovered or searched – don’t bring it to school. Just brings your textbook and lunch.
Of course some students, especially females, need to have some personal stuff with them. So no one is saying there should be random searches of all property. But if staff have reasonable grounds to believe there could be weapons or drugs, they should have the legal ability to search items on school property.
Hopefully the Select Committee will modify the Bill, to take account of concerns.