Keeping students safe takes priority over privacy

Hanna Jaeger, staff writer

This past May, the Edina School Board announced that they would allow drug-sniffing dogs in the Edina High School parking lot for the 2019-2020 school year. That shouldn’t be a problem, since students aren’t bringing contraband into school anyway—right?

Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality. Last year, 75% of suspensions were related to students bringing vaping equipment into school. That number has already jumped to 80% this year, according to EHS Principal Andy Beaton. Clearly, vaping is quickly becoming an epidemic at EHS. 

Teenagers shouldn’t be participating in such activities anywhere, but school certainly isn’t the place. It isn’t fair to students who just want to use the bathroom without clouds of harmful chemicals being blown into their faces. E-cigs are also a huge distraction during the school day with kids leaving the classroom several times a day to vape. Every day, more and more kids are being roped in, as vaping is usually a group activity in the infamous handicap stalls throughout the school.

The EHS administration has been trying to put a stop to this invasion. From keeping bathroom doors left open to the creation of Hornet Watch, many different actions have been taken to prevent vaping at school. It’s just not working. Kids are resourceful and can find a way around almost any rule the staff implements. K-9s are the next step. There need to be higher stakes, a more reliable way to deter students from bringing prohibited items onto school property. Perhaps police dogs can be that discouragement. With less to worry about as far as drugs and e-cigs on campus, EHS staff will be able to focus on more important matters and give attention to students that really need it.

Authority figures have every right to search backpacks with reasonable suspicion on campus. Cars are no different as the parking lot is still school property. If something illegal is found in a car, the situation is treated the same way it would be if it were found in a backpack. There is not going to be a harsher punishment because it was found by a police dog. Bringing in law enforcement will hopefully prove to be a better deterrent of illegal substances.

According to Principal Beaton, the dogs will be used sporadically, depending on availability and necessity. They will not be searching each and every car daily. A hunch is not enough—there must be evidence behind the speculation, and the search must be conducted in a just manner. It’s not turning the school into a dystopia, just making it a little safer. 

Sure, as Americans, we have a right to privacy. That’s one of the many beautiful things about the United States of America. If someone shows up to your house and asks to search your bedroom, you can say no. However, in school, public safety must be considered. If an authority figure has a reason to search your backpack or your car and evidence to back that up, it is their right to do so. It doesn’t sound appealing, but rules like that are crucial to keeping the rights of the entire student body and staff protected. A lawful search of one’s right to privacy is less important than a thousand others’ right to safety in their place of work or education. Plus, who doesn’t love a hard-working pooch?