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The Fourth Amendment and Student Searches in Schools

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Kenneth Durham

on 24 December 2012

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Transcript of The Fourth Amendment and Student Searches in Schools

Searches in Public Schools Student Safety Student Privacy A guide to protect teachers, staff, administrators and students from
illegal and unconstitutional search The Fourth Amendment and
Student Searches in Schools This Amendment protects and ensure people the right to:
Be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects
From unreasonable searches and seizures
A search cannot be instituted without government showing probable cause, or giving evidence that the search is necessary
The search must be specific, describing the place to be searched and the articles to be seized
A judge is interposed between the individual and the government The Fourth Amendment Reasonable suspicion
Reason to suspect
Sufficient foundation
Probable cause

James Madison wrote the Fourth Amendment and the state of Virginia recommended the amendment to the constitution in 1788 Clarity of Legal Terms Like the Fourth Amendment outside of schools, students have:
A right of privacy
Protection against unreasonable search and seizures
The search must have a specific target in what is being sought and a location that is to be searched

However the following are not required:
Evidence that meets the definition of probable cause, only that of reasonable suspicion
A warrant obtained from a judge is not needed The Fourth Amendment and
Public Schools School officials need only have a reasonable suspicion and not probable cause in order to conduct a legal search of a student (Alexander & Alexander, 2009, p. 463).

Reasonable suspicion is defined as a belief or opinion based upon facts or circumstances that do not amount to proof (Alexander & Alexander, 2009, p. 463). Reasonable Suspicion SCOTUS determined that for a search in a school to be constitutionally valid, reasonableness must prevail and it established to levels to determine validity:

Is the search justified at its inception – Was the motivation for the search reasonable in light of the information obtained?

Is the search reasonable itself – Does it is lack or contain specificity? Does it excessively intrude on a students privacy? Is it reasonable based on the student’s age, sex and nature of the offense? New Jersey v. T. L. O. (1985) Inception – facts leading to the initiation of the search must indicate the suspicion was reasonable

Person (including backpack)
Academic Locker
PE Locker
Athletic Locker
Band instrument case
Other Inception The courts require that the reasonableness of the suspicion and the danger or threat present to the safety of others be directly proportional to the intrusiveness of the search Intrusiveness Some individual suspicion is essential in establishing inception of a constitutional search
Searching an classroom full of students Context of the Search
Essentially school fall into a “special needs” category, students in extracurricular programs have a lower expectation of privacy, the method of search to collect urine samples is minimally intrusive Expansion of School Search Powers Students have a right to privacy
Courts will consider the magnitude of the offense and extent of the intrusiveness
Must have reasonable suspicion justifying the inception of a search
The search must be supported by specificity Guidelines for a Search Per district policy, students in our schools will not be sniffed by canine units
The grounds, locker rooms and the parking lot will be routinely searched
Classrooms will occasionally be searched, but students will leave the room prior to the canine unit or their handler enter the room Canine Searches Allowed when there is reasonable suspicion that a student is concealing something that may be harmful to other students
The more intrusive the search, the higher the threshold of reasonable suspicion must be; approaching probable cause
Courts have upheld strip searches when reasonable suspicion was established word of mouth and other factors were combined to initiate this type of search Strip Searches Alexander, K. & Alexander M.D. (2009).
American Public School Law  7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (2009).
SAFFORD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT #1 et al. v. REDDING Retrieved from http://learners.ncu.edu/CourseRoom/Def ault.aspx?course_code=ED5004- 8&learner_course_id=248202 References vs.
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