“Random high school searches?” Right!

“Random high school searches?” Right!

I swear COVID must’ve affected the mediocre mob’s hearing because they’re clearly incapable of listening to a word that comes out of their own mouths. It’s the only possible explanation for this epic onslaught of terrible ideas.

Here’s a perfect example.

South Elgin High School Assistant Principal Marilyn Mattei just sent a missive to parents explaining that both classrooms and students would be subject to “random searches” for the remainder of the school year.

Assistant Principal Marilyn Mattei

“The purpose of implementing random searches is to deter individuals from bringing weapons, contraband and other items to school or school-sponsored activities which are prohibited,” she wrote, “Conducting random searches not only curtails the threat of violence but also offers a safe learning environment for all.”

And by “random searches” we all know what she really means. SE High will disproportionately pat down and rifle through the lockers of minority students because, whether it’s this horse manure or a “stop and frisk” police policy, that’s what inevitably happens.

Didn’t a study just prove that, even in the demonstrably liberal Second City, black drivers are SIX TIMES more likely to be pulled over than their Caucasian counterparts? Not one time; not two times; not three times, but six flippin’ times! And if that kind of BS can happen in the self-proclaimed progressive bastion of Chicago, then what hope is there for South Elgin High School?

As a teacher in a nearby district told me, “We want to perform random searches, too. But we know exactly which ‘random’ students we want to search.”


But since I’m in a particularly magnanimous mood, let’s give Ms. Mattei and her eminently lethargic administrative ilk the benefit of the doubt. Let’s stipulate that these searches actually are random. Then, just like the TSA searched my 76-year-old mother-in-law,* the proposition becomes patently pointless. We know exactly who wants to take down a plane and it ain’t old white women.

We similarly know who’s more likely to shoot up a school.

“Conducting random searches curtails the threat of violence?” Yes! Because every school shooter brings the gun to school and puts it in their locker for a few days. Then they take some time to consider whether they really want to embark upon a murderous rampage.  Then they carry the gun around for a while just to see how it feels. Then they conduct a survey as to whether the other students want a mass shooting or not.

What have I said about Jeff Ward being the only adult in the room?

Unlike these purported searches, school violence, particularly on the part of a student, is anything but random. From Columbine forward, every single young male mass shooter has left the kind of milewide trail that anyone with half-a-brain could’ve unraveled long before the act. But the “adults” tasked with keeping our children safe never seem to catch on because they’re far too busy engaging in symbolic gestures that make no one safer because they don’t begin to address the real issue. Worse yet, this kind of pointless invasion of privacy only serves to teach students that the adults they should trust can’t be.

Put more simply, they only make the situation worse.

I understand teenagers harbor an intrinsic reticence towards “snitching” on their peers, but they’ve also watched enough news reports to realize they don’t want to be shot in the head at school, either.

That means the first step in preventing this kind of violence is to encourage students to report a classmate who’s sinking into the social abyss, or threatening to harm themselves or others. Since school shootings virtually never occur in a vacuum, that kind of (rare) proactive leadership is far more effective than a thousand passive random searches could ever hope to be.

With that initiative in place, the next step is for administrators to monitor social media, which, unlike random searches, would not be an invasion of privacy. Facebook is the very antithesis of privacy.

The Uvalde gunman left so many warning signs on social media in the months prior to the attack that his classmates started referring to him as “school shooter.” Yet the “adults” did absolutely nothing to address this imminent threat and 21 people are dead as a result. Every last one of those negligent administrators should be sued down to their last penny.

The stark reality is, just as my educator friend noted, teachers know exactly who the lost or problem children are which makes the required social media due diligence that much easier. But no! Let’s engage in random searches that are not only futile effort, but they create the kind of hard feelings that just might send a student down a violent path.

And the fact that Ms. Mattei and the rest of her South Elgin High School bureaucratic bumblers don’t begin to understand this is even more terrifying than the prospect of the next school shooting.


* As a humorous aside after a rather strident column, when the TSA insisted upon searching my late mother-in-law’s luggage, she wasn’t about to take it lying down. She insisted that the agent put on gloves, she loudly complained he was making a mess of everything, she told him not to go near her underwear, and she generally became the kind of pain in the ass that made this pain in the ass quite proud.

And they did absolutely nothing about it because going after a little old 95 lb. white-haired lady would’ve generated the worst kind of bad publicity.

I am convinced that, after the event, TSA agents in every American airport put a poster up in their breakroom with her photograph reading, “DO NOT attempt to search this woman!”

I miss Zenia.

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