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The Fourth Amendment and Public Schools

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1 The Fourth Amendment and Public Schools

2 Cornfield v. Consolidated School District

3 The Fourth Amendment Guarantees that . . .
“The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, 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.”

4 New Jersey v. T.L.O. The Court balanced students’ rights to privacy against school officials’ responsibilities to maintain order & discipline.

5 The T.L.O. Test for Reasonableness
The search must be justified at its inception. The search must be reasonable in scope, i.e.,“the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and are not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction.”

6 Issues T.L.O. Did Not Address
Less Intrusive Searches (Lockers, Desks) More Intrusive Searches (Strip Searching) Police Involvement in School Searches The Exclusionary Rule Individualized Suspicion

7 Vernonia v. Acton The Court balanced the intrusiveness of the search against the promotion of legitimate government interests.

8 The Vernonia Test Need Expectation of Privacy
Obtrusiveness of the Search

9 The Earls decision

10 Issues Left Unresolved by Vernonia
Legality of random drug testing for students involved in extracurricular activities. Legality of random drug testing for all students. Need for individualized suspicion in searches other than random drug testing of student athletes.

11 Court Decisions There have been almost three times as many court cases since T.L.O. as before. State courts rendered the majority (71%) of post-T.L.O. decisions. The T.L.O. standard for reasonableness has been used in most post-T.L.O. decisions. Students have lost in 79% of the cases.

12 Court Decisions Most searches (about 75%) were of males between the ages of 14 & 17. The most common types of searches were of pockets, lockers, & bookbags. 74% of the searches were for illegal drugs or weapons; 11% were for stolen property. Even when students won, they received money damages only 8% of the time; evidence was suppressed 39% of the time.

13 Something Was Found in 83% of the Cases
Illegal Drugs or Drug Paraphernalia: 41% Weapons: 22% Stolen Money or Property: 3% Nothing: 17%

14 Court Decisions The first court decision upholding the use of metal detectors in schools was after T.L.O. The first court cases upholding intrusive strip searches were after T.L.O. The first court case upholding drug testing of students in extracurricular activities was decided after Vernonia. The first court case upholding personal searches of groups of students was rendered after Vernonia.

15 Important Pennsylvania Cases
Commonwealth v. Cass Theodore v. Delaware Valley

16 States with Legislation Prohibiting Strip Searches in Public Schools
California Iowa New Jersey Oklahoma South Carolina Washington Wisconsin

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