President proposes school bag search law

Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs announced on November 7 that he had signed and sent to the Saeima two legislative initiatives calling for amendments to the Education Law and one amendment to the Law On Holidays, Remembrance and Commemorative Days.

One of the initiatives would give school principals the right to search the bags of students.

"School safety in an educational institution must be a priority, without which a high-quality educational process is unthinkable. Educators, students, and other staff of the educational institution have the right to feel safe in the educational institution. I believe that the legislator should take action to include a clear regulation in the Education Law for cases where there is a justified concern about the threat of violence or about other significant safety risks in an educational institution, which may be caused by dangerous substances and objects that may be in the possession of the learner. 

"In order to prevent such cases in a timely manner, I propose to include in the law a clear regulation that gives the head of the educational institution the right to search the student's personal belongings. The legislator, balancing the right of educational institutions to act and the right of learners to rely on reasonable protection of their rights and interests, must find a reasonable balance that would not allow arbitrariness from either side," the President's letter to the Presidium of the Saeima said.

Some disruption was recently caused in Latvian schools by a series of threats sent, most likely, from a Russian source.

A second legislative initiative would potentially allow administrative sanctions to be taken against parents who fail to provide schools and other educational institutions with information about any medical conditions that might affect their child.

The Education Law already includes an obligation on the part of parents to inform the head of the educational institution about the child's health condition and any other conditions that may affect the learning of the educational program and the persons involved in it.

"Unfortunately, I conclude that the obligation of parents, included in the Education Law, to provide essential information about the child to the educational institution without the responsibility stipulated by the law, is often not fulfilled. Therefore, I propose that the law on administrative violations in the field of education also recognize the actions of parents by not providing the information specified in the regulatory acts to the educational institution," the President's letter stated.

Submitting amendments to the law "On Holidays, Remembrance and Days to be Celebrated", the President also called for International Teachers' Day to be celebrated on October 5. 

"In order to standardize the approach to celebrating Teachers' Day in Latvia and thus emphasize the prestige and importance of this profession, I invite you to set this day to be celebrated according to the International Teachers' Day on October 5," the President's letter to the Presidium of the Saeima read.

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