The Supreme Court has held that while Fourth Amendment protections and prohibitions are applicable to students in public school, school authorities can act on less than probable cause. The legality of a search of a student will depend upon the reasonableness, under all of the circumstances, of the particular search. New Jersey

  1. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 105 S.Ct. 733, 83 L.Ed.2d 720 (1985). In special settings, as in a school, children’s Fourth Amendment protections are diminished by the school’s duty to act in loco parentis. Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822, 122 S.Ct. 2559, 153 L.Ed.2d 735 (2002)[school children who participate in extra circular activities may be drug tested pursuant to school policy without a warrant and without an initial showing that the school is experiencing a drug problem]. See also Horton
  2. Goose Creek Ind. School Dist., 690 F.2d 470 (5th Cir. 1982) [school officials, employed and said by state and supervising children (who are for the most part compelled to attend) are agents of government and constrained by Fourth Amendment].

However, the measures the school uses must be reasonably related to the objectives of the any search and cannot be excessively intrusinve in light of the age and sex of the student and the the nature of the allegation. New Jersey v. T.L.O, 469 U.S. 325 (1985). Also see: Redding v. Stafford United School District #1, 531 F.3d 1071 (9th Cir. 2008)(en banc) [finding a strip search of a 13 year old girl not reasonable in scope when the object of the search was tablets of ibuprofen].

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