Due Process in Schools

Directions - Read the following story quietly to yourself. Answer the questions on your own paper using complete sentences.

The school field trip to the International Auto Show was a real blast. Nothing could spoil the glow of the trip as the old bus rumbled back to school through the slush and snow to the curb of Anytown High School.

Everybody prepared to get off the bus and go to afternoon classes. Suddenly, the students were snapped to attention by the piercing twirl of light from the roof of a police car.

"What's happening?" somebody asked. There was a buzz of confused voices until officer Catcher boarded and the bus fell silent.

"You'll be able to go to class shortly," Officer Catcher explained. "But first we'd like you to go to the gym with all your stuff. We received an anonymous call about a possible problem."

Moans drifted through the bus. "Problem? What's that supposed to mean? Who called the police, anyway?" Nobody was pleased. The students scooped up their coats and back packs from the back of the bus and waited until they could get off. They filed off, muttering, and walked to the gym under the watchful eye of Principal Stern and a couple of police officers.

Once in the gym, the police searched every back pack and purse. Ben Bystander, like everybody else, was nervous but he knew he had only gym clothes in his bag.

Ben observed the scene and began to write possible scenarios in his head. Which kid around might be a suspect in some crime that was behind this search? Who looked like a troublemaker?

How about the new kid with the tattoos and the earring? Or that big, lumbering kid they called The Ox? Everybody stayed out of his way. And don't forget Deidre. She was trouble for sure. Ben handed his back pack to Officer Catcher. The officer opened it, reached in, and withdrew a small, silver, pistol. Then he said quietly, "Come with me, son." They walked out of the gym and Ben thought his heart was going to burst through his chest! There was quite an uproar among the students.

"I...I...never saw that thing before. It's not mine. Someone must have put it there," he protested. The other students were released back to their classes. The police called Ben's parents.

"Hello, Mrs. Bystander. We found a gun in Ben's back pack. Please come right away." After Ben's mom arrived, she gave the police permission to question Ben. First they read him his Miranda Rights.

"Ben," they said, "you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. If you do make a statement, anything you say may be used against you in a court of law."

"Why don't you just tell us where you got the gun, Ben?" the officer asked." I didn't get it! said Ben. "Someone must have put it in there when my bag was in the back of the bus. I'm totally innocent. I want an attorney."

Ben was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and suspended from school pending a hearing the next day. If found guilty, Ben would be expelled and would face jail time.

What's your opinion?
Answer the questions using complete sentences in your notebook.
1. Do you think that the police conducted a legal search in this case? Explain your answer in detail.
2. Do you think the police should be able to use anonymous tips to justify searching people? Explain your answer. [When the police use an anonymous tip, the person who calls them doesn't leave their name]
3. Do you believe that police should be able to question a minor without first obtaining the permission of his or her parent(s)? Explain your answer.
4. Do you think the principal had the right to suspend Ben for possession of a gun, even if the search by the police may have been illegal? Explain why or why not.
5. Why do you think school officials are not required to have a warrant that is required by the police before forcing students to participate in metal detector tests or locker searches?