Serarch of Students 4th Amendment

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Legal searches of students
Phillip Burleson
Western Carolina University

I am sure that most people will agree that the safety of our children is of an upmost importance. Based on the events in the past decade like those of terrorism and the school shootings schools have taken a preventive approach and this can have a big impact on a schools day to day operation. When there is an issue that has come about we learn from it and prevent it from happening again. Many parents hold the school officials accountable with providing the upmost safety for their children. They are defenseless and helpless while in school, so we must protect them with the greatest security. A school can be vulnerable and children should have the right to safety and security. It is means that the children’s right to privacy is limited and that is a sacrifice that they should be willing to give up. So for this fact the schools then falls under the special needs search. They do require a special measure in order to provide protection of their health, safety, and their overall well being. To ensure that public officials can be effective in doing this the courts have established certain criteria that they can follow in regards to searches of schools. The Supreme Court declared that the Fourth Amendment does apply in the school but, due to the fact that the schools interest is to maintain security, order, and provide a good educational environment the full protection of the 4th Amendment does not apply. (Ferdico, Fradella & Totten, 2009)

The scopes of the searches are limited and should be reasonable in nature. Random searches are often used to keep contraband from entering the facility. Searches of students and staff can be effective to eliminate items such as guns, drugs, and any other illegal or harmful items. Items that can be searched like lockers are on school property and have no expectation of privacy and can be searched. They are assigned to each student for their own use to hold their books and personal things during classes. The locks that the students use on them are not to keep a student’s privacy but to protect their belongings from other students stealing things. You are using their property. Therefore, because the school has to keep the high standards of security the school can express the right to search any belongings for any illegal goods, substances and improper usage at any time throughout the school year and really without notice. The schools try to respect the rights of privacy of students by not performing searches all the time or without any cause at all, but in these days with security at its most needed time, they are being pressured by the community to provide a safe school environment for the students and have to act on anything suspicious. For example the court case of New Jersey v. T.L.O this is when a the vice principal questioned a teenager about smoking in the bathroom at school which is against school policy. When she said that she was not smoking he asked to look at her purse. When he looked in her purse he found a pack of cigarettes and rolling paper. He was also suspicious of more so upon a further search found a little marijuana, empty plastic bags, and a large amount of money. All of these are consistent with the girl dealing drugs. The Supreme Court decided that the actions of vice principal were deemed necessary to because it had been reported she was smoking and she denied it. It was reasonable that if she was smoking the cigarettes would be in her purse. (Ferdico, Fradella & Totten, 2009)

The school setting in some schools is sometimes a harsh one. Students that live in a bad areas will have to sacrifice certain rights of privacy to prevent weapons, and drugs from entering the facility. If a school has a metal detector students must pass through. If the metal detector goes off that is enough reasonable suspicion to search. Students can consent to searches anytime. If a student...
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