The fourth Amendment to the Constitution safeguards citizens from intrusive searches by the government. This includes protecting students in public schools from being searched unreasonably, since school officials are considered government officials for Fourth Amendment purposes. This ruling can make it very difficult for schools to maintain a safe and orderly environment conducive to learning, while maintaining the privacy and civil rights of the students.
According to Essex (2005), "to justify a school search, there must be reasonable suspicion that gives rise to a need to search and the means used to carry out the search must be reasonable." By virtue of in loco parentis (in parent's place), certified school personnel can initiate a reasonable search when in possession of reliable information prior to the search. The usual standard of measure is defined by the US Supreme Court case New Jersey v. TLO (1985), which stated that the legality of the search of a student is dependant on the reasonableness of the ...
What legal principles define school official's authority to search students? When might a student search be unreasonable? What are the roles and responsibilities of school resource officers?