Sage Schools or Safe Society: Issues in School Violence, School Bullying, and School Discipline

Douglas G. McKenzie, Grand Valley State University

At what point does society's concern for safe schools interfere with student's rights under the U.S. Constitution? In the wake of the notorious school killings at Columbine as well as the horrific terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, there is an increased concern about safety and security in our society in general and our schools in particular. This hyper-vigilance has resulted in many schools adopting a zero-tolerance for weapons, more defined school discipline policies, and strategies for creating safe schools. This paper examines a) social/behavioral research relating to school violence and school bullying behavior and b) an overview of key Supreme Court cases related to corporal punishment, student suspensions and expulsions, student searches and seizures, random drug testing, and disruptive special education students. The paper also examines the relationship between Supreme Court rulings, student discipline policies, and the balancing of individual constitutional rights and safe schools.

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Updated 05/20/2006