LOS ANGELES - In response to concerns voiced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the Claremont Unified High School District has agreed not to pat- down students and conduct "breath searches" at school graduation ceremonies without reasonable suspicion that a particular student has violated applicable law or school rules.
As first reported in the Claremont Courier on June 27, 2001, Claremont High School teachers performed pat-down searches of students before they were allowed to enter a baseball field where their graduation ceremony was to take place.
Soon after learning about the reported searches, the ACLU/SC sent the district a letter calling for an end to the policy of searching students without reasonable suspicion, explaining that such searches are in clear violation of students' Fourth Amendment rights. In response to the ACLU/SC's letter, the district agreed that students will not be searched without reasonable suspicion. Today, the ACLU/SC sent the district's counsel a letter saying that, in light of the district's assurances, litigation should not be necessary unless there are future violations of students' rights.
"We are pleased that the district has given assurances that it will respect students' constitutional rights and that it will not conduct blanket searches of graduating students," said Dan Tokaji, staff attorney for the ACLU/SC. "Students who have worked hard to graduate should not have their rights violated simply because the school has a hunch that a few of them may be under the influence of alcohol. The ACLU/SC will remain vigilant in making sure the district abides by its promise to end indiscriminate searches."
A copy of the ACLU/SC's letter to the Claremont High School District follows this release.
"A few bad apples should not be allowed to taint the experience of graduation day for the rest of the student body," said ACLU/SC board member Glenn A. Goodwin who resides in the Claremont area. "Graduation day should be about proud parents and students celebrating and ejoying the highest academic achievement of these students' young lives not about administering pat-down searches and breath searching students who may have never had a drop of alcohol in their lives."