The Excessive State Confiscates Excessive Chips

According to an article in posted hours ago, a “western Pennsylvania public school district announced that one of its schools would begin searching student lunches brought from home this week and confiscating “excessive” quantities of chips, soda, candy and other snacks.”

The school is countering students bringing their own snacks by imposing searches of property that probably cannot withstand Constitutional scrutiny. No probable cause for a search is claimed or even noted as important. The school uses the undefined and morally-drenched word “excessive” to describe its analysis of a problem. The article continues: “The Aliquippa School District posted a Facebook message saying that “due to the excessive amounts of outside snacks” being brought into Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School — including “shopping bags full of chips” and “bottled and canned drinks” and “candy” — starting April 4, each student is limited to bringing to school up to one 4-ounce bag of chips and up to one 20-ounce bottled or canned beverage, WPXI-TV said.”

Excessive snacks lead to confiscation by the school, which is the State. “If more than the allotted items are brought to school, authorities will throw them out, the message said. In addition, the rule also applies to students who bring their lunches to school — which will be searched.”

One person who commented on his or her approval of the policy provided an additional fact that may have been used to justify the policy. As alleged by the Centre Daily Times, the person: “I don’t remember being allowed to have food outside of the cafeteria when I was in school, so I find it weird that the school district even has to request this.” See the video embedded in the article

The situation is curious. What’s being done with all these ‘snacks’ and where are they being consumed? The article references parent Janisha Walker who told WXPI that she’s “seen some of the snacks kids are bringing in when I drop my daughter off” and added that she’s asked her daughter, “Are they setting up a small store? Why are they carrying a variety box of chips and two liters of soda into the school?”

An insight into the internally inconsistent bureaucratic mentality can be gleaned by the justification for the policy articulated by Superintendent Phillip Woods. “Some students also are selling and trading snacks, which has led to arguments and distractions, so the district wants to minimize that.” Woods did not elaborate on how distractions would be reduced by reducing the number of snacks. Would a distraction be minimized from two minutes to one and a half?

If the problem is distractions from school-oriented activities by trading snacks in the halls, or if the problem is littering, then ban all snacks outside of the cafeteria. Students who violate the ban would be sanctioned. A forced reduction of snacks in harmony with a grotesque search and seizure program seems destined to escalate distractions rather than reducing them.

The school district’s post garnered hundreds of critical comments since it was posted last week, NBC News reported, adding that the post was deleted by Tuesday morning. A district spokesperson did not respond to a request for further comment or answer why the post was deleted. The school district made a perplexing statement. “If you have children in the district please contact your building principal. If you are an Internet heckler, continue as you were.”

Troublesome is the mindset of the bureaucrats that imposed or sought to impose this policy. It is reasonable to assume that this policy was discussed and debated. Therefore, pros and cons were thrown around like confetti at a wedding. The enactment of the policy reflects not only an obtuse  tyrannical mindset but an arrogance, a sense of immunity to reason and an indifference to the logical consequences of an over-reaching—excessive—and likely illegal approach to a situation better handled more deftly.

D&B Staff

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