Few people still hold the delusion that small towns are inherently safer or quieter today. Yet, sometimes, something will remind us that they are not, anyway. Such an event occurred recently in the Haysville, KS, school district, USD 261.
Jeff Wilson, resident and father, was appalled to learn from one of his children, whose name shall not be revealed for privacy reasons, that their school had conducted a building-wide search, going through lockers and desks. Such drug searches have become routine in today’s schools, but what Wilson was particularly upset about was the fact that the district had neglected to contact him beforehand to let him know, as a parent, that this event had been scheduled.
“I would have called the police,” he stated at a recent Board of Education meeting. “They could have helped in this situation. They should have been there.”
According to school board policy, parents must be contacted regarding any search of their child or his belongings. This policy is often ignored, however, when school-wide searches are conducted. This is because, as Superintendent John Burke stated at the February 5 school board meeting, “when it’s a class or the entire school, it’s not always feasible to call every parent.”
Wilson had spoken to the school board regarding this policy before the meeting, but he returned in order to address what he felt was a mistake on the part of the district. He had already been told that the board had consulted with lawyers from the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB). But he was more concerned at the time with what would be done with the policy in the future. The school board had made their intentions known; they were in the process of reviewing the policy itself with the intention of making changes to it. According to Wilson, his goal in bringing the policy to the attention of those in charge had not been to have it altered or destroyed; he had hoped to force the district to follow its own rules.
“I’d hate to see this policy watered down because we refuse to address the problem,” he said to the board. “I ask you not to change it. It’s a perfectly good policy.”
Board President Greg Fenster assured Wilson that the board would work with the Haysville Police Department and the district’s School Resource Officers (SROs) in order to streamline the scheduling and preparation for school searches. However, the board will still review possible revisions to the existing policy at their next meeting on February 20.