6 Apr 2011

Teachers to be given power to search students

8:27 am on 6 April 2011

Education Minister Ann Tolley says the Government will change the Education Act to give teachers and principals the power to search students for drugs and weapons

The Secondary Principals' Association has been calling for greater clarity about the issue since last year.

It says teachers and principals have been reluctant to search students because they might be charged with assault.

Association president Patrick Walsh says schools need to know how they are allowed to deal with some situations, including students bringing weapons to school.

On Tuesday Mrs Tolley told principals the Ministry of Education will provide schools with guidelines about search and seizure in the interests of safety.

The law change will come later, she says.

Auckland-based Youth Law solicitor Vanushi Walters search and seizure powers in schools are unnecessary and a breach of the Bill of Rights Act.

She says the most appropriate course of action is for principals and teachers to call the police.

However Greymouth High School principal Jim Luders says that can be an over-reaction and a waste of police time, and the first stage should be to see whether an initial suspicion is founded by checking what students are carrying.