A STUDY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOME ISSUES RELATED TO SEARCH AND SEIZURE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The basic problem faced by the courts in regard to public school searches and seizures has been the balancing of students' rights on one side and administrative flexibility to maintain discipline and order on the other side. This study began by tracing the development of the historic legal role of the school administrator in the state and federal court cases prior to New Jersey v. T.L.O. in 1985. In these early casees, rulings lacked consistency and the administrators' role was vaguely defined. Most courts prior to T.L.O. granted a limited private citizen status under the guise of the in loco parentis doctrine which resulted in the easing of the search warrant and the exclusionary rule requirements under the Fourth Amendment. Next, the study analyzed the application of reasonable search standards in the public schools prior to T.L.O. The majority of the early court cases applied the reasonable suspicion standard to public school searches and not probable cause. In assessing the reasonableness of student searches, the courts measured the level of suspicion by the amount and quality of the information obtained by the school official and by student factors, such as age, sex, maturity, and school record. This review also noted those variables that affected the level of suspicion, such as strip and canine searches. Finally, the study analyzed the current status of student Fourth Amendment rights under New Jersey v. T.L.O., the first student search case to be granted certiorari by the United States Supreme Court that was decided on January 15, 1985. In exploring the role of the school administrator, the court determined that the official acts as a state representative. Noting a factor such as compulsory education, the majority rejected parental immunity under the in loco parentis doctrine. The justices also selected reasonable suspicion as the standard most suited for student searches. In defining this standard, the court stated that the search had to be "justified at its inception" and "reasonably related in scope" to the circumstances that first generated the search.
MICHAEL DEAN BROOKS,
"A STUDY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOME ISSUES RELATED TO SEARCH AND SEIZURE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS"
ETD Collection for Tennessee State University.