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Safety Law News for January 29, 2019

In Florida, the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, held that the Palm Beach County School Board did not violate the rights of its employees by requiring all applicants for substitute teacher positions to submit to and pass a drug test as a condition of employment. The court ruled that suspicionless drug testing was permissible because “ensuring the safety of millions of school children in the mandatory supervision and care of the state…are compelling concerns.” (Friedenberg v. School Board of Palm Beach County) 

In Pennsylvania, the United States District Court held that a student’s constitutional rights were not violated when school officials expelled him for promoting school violence by threatening to shoot a teacher. The court ruled that language reasonably perceived as threatening school violence is not constitutionally protected. The court also held that school officials must have significant discretionary decision-making ability to maintain a safe environment.  (J.R. by and Through Redden v. Penns Manor Area School District) 

In Virginia, a new study on students’ perceptions of safety and the use of video cameras concludes that cameras positioned outside of schools tend to make students feel safer. The study notes that inside the school, video cameras make some students feel “like Big Brother is watching them.” 

In Mississippi, the final report from the school safety task force focuses on mental health training and more efficient use of law enforcement. House Bill 1283, based on the task force report, has been introduced in the Mississippi legislature.

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