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Randomly searching students fails LAUSD kids on so many levels

Randomly searching students fails LAUSD kids on so many levels
Students in a classroom at Harris Newmark High School in Los Angeles in 2016. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I read “Do L.A. Unified’s daily random searches keep students safe, or do they go too far?” and shuddered. Los Angeles Unified School District officials should be ashamed and embarrassed over the dehumanizing way they treat students.

How can anyone connected with this fiasco condone such an assault on their students’ personhood or create such a threatening environment so adverse to learning? Parents and students have complained, community groups have protested, the American Civil Liberties Union has become involved, but nothing changes.

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Perhaps now with the curtain pulled back for the broader public to see, this mean-spirited breach of trust in the name of safety will be stopped.

The searches have created a semi-police state inside the schools and turned educators into law enforcement. But wait, there’s more: Kevin, the first student interviewed in the article, described how administrators also involved students in implementing the random selection process to determine which students would be searched. Chilling.

Karen Hilfman, Los Angeles

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To the editor: For this Los Angeles native and proud product of L.A. Unified, it pains me to read the seemingly endless parade of troubling news emanating from the school system.

In yet another horrific story — this one about checking for weapons on middle and high school campuses, the haphazard and random process for checking and the ultimate erosion of trust between administrations, teachers and students — there was an almost throwaway line buried deep down that deserves far more attention: “Homeless students who carry all their belongings with them also can find [random searches] frightening.”

The questions beg: If we know there are homeless students carrying all their belongings to school, what are we doing about it? What are we doing for them?

Richard Agata, Culver City

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To the editor: I have two daughters in the district, so I have more skin in this than most people. I am always very concerned about children’s safety and drugs at school, but these random searches are bad on many levels.

Three weeks ago I contacted Board of Education member Scott Schmerelson’s office to complain about these intrusive searches. Often the people performing the searches do not have handheld metal detectors; they just open the child’s bag and look. Children who refuse to be searched are threatened with arrest.

I am originally from Australia, and I am appalled at how the school district treats its children, who have rights in this great country. I’d like to continue living in the United States, not China or Russia.

Michael McHugh, Los Angeles

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