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Maasai Tribe. Soul Sister. Working Girl Sisters. Black is Beautiful. African Silhouettes - 1 box. African Sunset. Shades of Africa - 1 box. Sistas - 1 box. Sweet Mahogany - 1 box. Tiny Spirits Family - 1 Box. The Fourth Amendment to the U. Constitution guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Schools argued that administrators acted in loco parentis —in the place of the parent—while students were at school. In , the U. Supreme Court determined that the Fourth Amendment applies to students in the public schools New Jersey v.

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. The Court articulated a standard for student searches: reasonable suspicion.

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Reasonable suspicion is satisfied when two conditions exist: 1 the search is justified at its inception, meaning that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will reveal evidence that the student has violated or is violating the law or school rules, and 2 the search is reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified the search, meaning that the measures used to conduct the search are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and that the search is not excessively intrusive in light of the student's age and sex and the nature of the offense.

In New Jersey v. Since this landmark decision, several cases have debated what constitutes reasonable suspicion: Four students huddled together, one with money in his hand and another with his hand in his pocket, does not provide reasonable suspicion A. State of Florida , An anonymous phone call advising an administrator that a student will be bringing drugs to school, coupled with the student's reputation as a drug dealer, creates reasonable suspicion to search the student's pockets and book bag State of New Hampshire v. Drake , A report made by two students to a school official that another student possesses a gun at school constitutes reasonable suspicion to search the student and his locker In re Commonwealth v.

Carey, An experienced drug counselor's observation of a student who appears distracted and has bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils justifies taking the student's blood pressure and pulse Bridgman v. The fact that the search of all but one student in a class fails to reveal allegedly stolen property gives school officials reasonable suspicion to search that student DesRoches v.

Caprio, The odor of marijuana in the hall does not provide reasonable suspicion to search all students' book bags, purses, and pockets Burnham v. West , Although the legal standard for reasonable suspicion is clear, the application of it in different contexts is not always as clear.

The Court has even noted that articulating precisely what reasonable suspicion means. Reasonable suspicion is a commonsense, nontechnical conception that deals with the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act. Ornelas v.

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United States , , at School officials need only reasonable suspicion to search students in public schools, but sworn law enforcement officials normally must have probable cause to search students. Probable cause to search exists when "known facts and circumstances are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable prudence in the belief that contraband.

But are law enforcement officials assigned to schools to maintain safety subject to the reasonable suspicion standard or the higher probable cause standard? The answer depends on whether the court views law enforcement personnel assigned to the school as school officials or law enforcement officials. When the police or school administrators act at one another's request, they run the risk of becoming one another's agents.

Such a relationship could change the standard necessary to conduct a student search.


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Some courts treat police officers as school officials subject to the lower standard of reasonable suspicion when they search students at the request of school administrators In the Interest of Angelia D. Other courts hold that school officials conducting a search on the basis of information from the school resource officer are acting as agents of the police and are, therefore, subject to the higher standard of probable cause State of New Hampshire v. Heirtzler , The mere presence of a sworn law enforcement officer during a search by a school administrator does not trigger the need for probable cause Florida v.

School officials and sworn law enforcement officers may conduct a search without reasonable suspicion or probable cause if the student voluntarily consents to the search.


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Voluntariness is determined on the basis of the circumstances—including the student's age, education level, and mental capacity—and the context of the search. When consent is granted, officials may conduct the search only within the boundaries of the consent. If a student consents to the search of her purse, for example, an administrator may not search her locker unless the search of the purse provides probable cause or reasonable suspicion to search the locker.

School officials and law enforcement officers are not required to advise students that they have a right to refuse to give consent to search. Some school policies or state regulations, however, may require that they advise students of their rights. Some school policies require students to provide consent to a search or risk discipline. In at least one federal circuit, the court has upheld this policy DesRoches v. Caprio , In this case, all but one student consented to a search of their personal belongings. The search of the consenting students revealed nothing. Pursuant to school board policy, DesRoches was suspended for 10 days for failure to consent to the search.

The student claimed that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because the administrator did not have reasonable suspicion to search him.

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The court held that when the search of all other students in the class failed to reveal the stolen item, the administrator had reasonable, individualized suspicion to search DesRoches. Therefore, his discipline for failing to consent to a legal search was upheld. School officials conduct individual searches when they suspect that a student or a small group of students possesses evidence of a violation of the law or school rules.

Such searches are subject to the reasonable suspicion standard. Officials conduct random or blanket searches not because of individualized suspicion, but as a preventive measure. Read more. View Full Calendar. Recent News. November 4, November 1, September 3, Are you a veteran, service member, or surviving spouse? Have Questions? Get In Touch This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Have Mortgage Questions? For domestic and international wires. Current openings and opportunities!

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