Search and Seizure in the Public Schools

1497 words 6 pages
Search & Seizure in the Public Schools

To fully understand the role and related responsibilities of search and seizure in the public schools, the Constitutional rights of the students and case law must be examined. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. The intent of the Fourth Amendment is to guarantee security against unreasonable governmental searches. Because school officials are actually
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Locker Searches
Isiah B. v. State of Wisconsin held that a student does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a school locker, as the locker is school property. In this case, the school had keys to all the locks, and students were prohibited from putting their own locks on their lockers. Strip Searches
Cornfield v. Consolidated High School District No. 230 held that a strip search in the case in which a student was searched upon suspicion that a bulge in his clothing contained drugs was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The student, a 16-year-old male, was suspected of "crotching" drugs, and there had been relatively recent drug-related incidents reported by various teachers and aides as well as personal observations of an unusual bulge in the student's crotch areas, all creating suspicion. The search was performed in a boys' locker room, and the student was allowed to put on a gym uniform during the search of his clothes. In this case, the need for school officials to maintain order outweighed the student's right to privacy, and, in view of the level of reasonable suspicion as well as the way the search was conducted, the court held for the school district.
Based on the Cornfield case, the rule of thumb for strip searches would be to avoid them unless there is an immediate danger such as weapons or drugs. The more intrusive as strip search is, the greater reasonable suspicion needed which in this case would be individualized


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