By July 2020, the L.A Unified School District Board of Education has voted towards an end to all metal detector random searches. This has left many Los Angeles students in high spirits as they believe they have successfully stood up for their civil rights.
“It’s time for it to end,” said Cecily Myart-Cruz, Vice President of United Teachers L.A during an NBC interview. “Everyone wants student safety, and there’s a way to go about that instead of harassing and criminalizing our students.”
The new policy now ensures that students are only allowed to have their possessions searched under reasonable suspicion. If a student refuses to allow the search, then law enforcement must be brought into the situation.
Although students are now given more privacy, MACES principal Gabriel Duran is convinced that the ban will leave schools unsafe. “We’ve had contraband, edible cookies, cannabis, vaping, beer, box cutters…” he said.
Without being able to constantly supervise what students bring to school on a regular basis, Duran is concerned about the future of safety. However, he has remained prepared to handle those who do not follow the rules. “What a student needs is not a criminal record. What the student needs is counseling to understand why their behavior can later in life cause them to be locked up,” he said. Duran does not plan on bringing a dean into the school anytime soon, as he claims that a dean’s sole purpose is to punish, not teach. He continues to focus on meeting the needs of troubled students with compassion and counseling.
A few MACES students remain unsure on how they feel about the policy. Eighth grader Ashley Perez felt uncomfortable the first time she was randomly searched, but understands that it is necessary at times. “It depends. When they searched through all the girls’ bags, I understood,” she said, regarding when staff went through every female MACES students’ bags after a recent graffiti issue. Perez is not worried about her safety, but suggests that no matter what, there will always be uncooperative students. “I feel like there’s going to be a big group that [rebels], but for most kids they’ll start talking more to teachers,” she said. She remains optimistic about the circumstances, hoping that a new trust will form between students and staff.
Ashley Carranza, a senior who has been randomly searched three times, dislikes random searches altogether, claiming they are conducted for all the wrong reasons. “If you were tardy, [staff] did not let you go to class because they wanted to random search you. I find it unfair because they are prioritizing their needs rather than my needs of an education.” Carranza expects MACES students to be mature enough to think for themselves. “I think everyone is capable of knowing what they should and should not bring,” she said.
In a recent poll conducted by The Wolfpack Times, about 51% of MACES students and staff believe that random searches are effective, while the other 49% disagree. Whether or not safety is at risk for the next school year without random searches is unknown, but one thing remains certain: students should continue to focus on school, be respectful, and remain scholarly.