Reasonable Suspicion Searches January 9, 2019
The Fourth Amendment – US ConsTitution • The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Before 1985, doubt existed about whether this right applied to students in the public schools. Schools argued that administrators acted in loco parentis—in the place of the parent—while students were at school. In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Fourth Amendment applies to students in the public schools (New Jersey v. T.L.O., 1985). The Court concluded, however, that the school environment requires an easing of the restriction to which searches by public authorities are normally subject. School officials, therefore, do not need probable cause or a warrant to search students.
Principal vs SRO • A principal or AP (School Official) needs Reasonable Suspicion to conduct a search. AN SRO needs Probable Cause. • Probable Cause is a much higher standard. • Therefore, if a search is to be conducted, it needs to be completed by the school official. The SRO can be there if deemed necessary, but the search should be directed by the school official.
New Jersey vs T.L.O. (1985) • TLO established two standards that we must abide by….. • 1. The search must be justified at its inception – there must be reasonable grounds to suspect that a law or school policy has been violated. • 2. The search is reasonable in scope to the circumstances that justified the search – The search is not unreasonably intrusive given the age and sex of the student or the nature of the offense. (i.e. a strip search to find a stolen eraser on a Kindergarten student???).
Additional Case LAw • The Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. • All courts are different.
A.S. vs State of Florida (1997) • Four Students are huddled together. One has money in his hand. Another has his hands in his pockets. The principal decides to search. • Reasonable Suspicion?
State of New Hampshire vs Drake (1995) • An administrator receives an anonymous call that a student will be bringing drugs to school. The student has a reputation as a drug dealer. The principal searches the student’s pockets and book bag. • Reasonable Suspicion?
In re Commonwealth vs Carey (1990) • Two students make a report to the principal that a student is in possession of a gun. The principal searches the student and his locker. • Reasonable Suspicion?
Burnham vs West (1987) • The principal enters a hallway and smells the undeniable smell of marijuana. There is a group of students in the hallway. He searches all students book bags, purses, and pockets. • Reasonable Suspicion?
What do we know as of now? • It depends! • If we are going to be sued by the aclu, make sure you call and get advice. Even reasonable people can agree/disagree on what is reasonable.
Table Time • Please review your assigned NC case for table and larger group discussion.
Wrap-up • Thoughts? • Comments? • Suggestions? • Questions?