14.School Search and Seizure ( the U.S. 2 )---- New Jersey v. T.L.O. & Some others

Japanese version is available.


The Supreme Court in the U.S. stated that searches and seizures by public officials need not to be based upon " probable
cause ", the standard required by the fourth amendment, but need to be based upon "reasonable suspicion." As this is the
only one authorized standard of " School Search and Seizure " in the U.S.. The lower courts will perceive the particular
circumstances with this sandard, and also school officials need to observe this standard, for in fact, what they say, the U.S.
is the soceity of lawsuit, where the number of lawyers is about twenty times of Japan's. In Japan,the cases of school Search
and Seizure will be increasing in the future, so I will describe the outline of " New Jersey v.T.L.O." , and then will add some
model searches and seizures policies in the U.S.,and some other datas in

NEW JERSEY v. T.L.O. (469 U.S. 325 ) January 15,1985


On March 7, 1980, a teacher at P.High School in M.County, N.J.,discovered two girls smoking in a lavatory. One of them was
the respondent T.,who at that time a 14-year-old high school freshman. Because smoking in the lavatory was a violation of
a school rule, the teacher took them to the Principal's office, where they met with Assistant Vice Principal Mr.C. In response
to questioning by Mr.C. T's companion admitted that she had violated the rule, T.,however, denied that she had been smoking
in the lavatory and claimed that she did not smoke at all.

Mr.C. asked T. to come into his private office and demanded to see her purse. Opening the purse, he found a pack of cigarettes
and a package of cigarette rolling papers. In his experience, possesion of rolling papers by the school students was closely
associated with the use of marijuana. Suspecting that a closer examination of the purse might yield further evidence of drug
use, Mr.C. pr ceeded to search the purse thoroughly. The search revealed a small amount of marihuana, a pipe, a number of
empty plastic bags, a substantial quantity of money in one-dollar bills, an index card that appealed to be a list of students who
owed T. money, and two letters that implicated T. in marijuana dealing.

Mr.C. notified T's mother and the police, and turned the evidence of drug dealing over to the police. At the request of the police,
T's mother took her daughter to police headquarters, where T. confessed that she had been selling marihuana at the high
school. On the basis of the confession and the evidence, the State brought delinquency charges against T.in the Juvenile
and Demestic Relation Court.

2. After charges

Contending that Mr.C's search violated the Fourth Amendment, T. moved to suppress the evidence found in her purse as well
as her confession, which, she argued , was tainted by the allegedly unlawful search. The juvenile Court denied the motion to
suppress. T, appealed the Fourth Amendment ruling, and the Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the judgment of the
Appellate Division and ordered the suppression of the evidence found in T's purse.

3. The Supreme Court's conclusion

a. Our conclusion is that because public school officials act in " in loco parentis "in their dealing with the students, they act as
representatves of the state in carrying out searches and other disciplinary functions, and therefore, must comply with the
restrictions of the fourth amendment.
b. Requiring a teacher to obtain a warrant before searching a child suspected of an infraction of school rules would unduly
nterfere with the maintenance of the swift and informal disciplinary procedures in the schools.
Most importantly, balancing the legitimate expectation of privacy and the school's equally legitimate need to maintain an
environment in which learning can take place.

* " Reasonable suspicion "
a. First, a search by public school officials is justified at its inception,"when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting
that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school."
b. Second, the search must be reasonbly related in scope to the circumstances which justified the interference in the first
place. The measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light
of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction. Accordingly, the judgement of the Supreme Court of New
Jersey is Reversed. Justice POWELL, with whom Justice O'CONNOR joins, concurring. Justice BLACKMUN, concurring
in the judgement. Justice BRENNAN, with whom Justice MARSALL joins, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

4. The lower court's decisions

Someday, I will be able to summarize the lower court's decisions about school searches and seizures more in detail, but here
will only introduce a little on locus of searches.
a. School locker searches
School lockers are under the joint control of the student and school officials.
In Zamora v. Pomeroy,(639 F.2d,665), School officials give notice to the students that their right to privacy is limited.
b. Vehicle searches
In State v.Slattery (1990), the court admitted it reasonable search for a school official, acting on a tip that a student was
selling marijuana out of his car in the school parking lot.
c. Bookbags/Purses/Pockets searches
In State v.Moore (1992),was permitted, but if a search of the student's pockets reveal no prohibited items, the search
should be end there.
d. Body searches
Strip searches should be performed only under the most extreme circumstances, such as dangerous drugs or weapons,
and reliable evidence. And see the case in Alabama (1992).
e. Urine testing
Lower court has decided urine testing upon the reasonable suspicion standard.(Anable v.Ford,653 F.Supp,22 1985)
Before, schools could not mandate all or a class of students to submit to blood and urine tests for drugs, but recently
are changing ?
In Japan, the permissible scope of mandatory test for all students as part of medical check-ups at the beginning of
school year.
f. Sweep searches
Sniff searches using dogs. Lower courts have been divided on it, but In Jennings v. Joshu Independent School District
(19089 it was permitted.
g. Metal detector searches
Opinion of the Attorny General(August 30, 1994) Syllabus:"It is constitutionally permissible for school officials to use a
metal detector to determin if students are carrying weapons into school; however, the school district should adopt
policies to ensure the reasonableness of the metal detector search."
5. Datas
A, Legal Guidelines for Searches ---A sample: the State of South Carolina
Section 2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, school administrators and officials may conduct reasonable searches
on school property of lockers,desks,vihicles, and personal belongings such as purses, bookbags, wallets,and
satches with or without probable cause.
Section 3. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, school principals or their designees may conduct reasonable searches
of the person and property of visitors on school premises.
Section 4. No school administrator or official may conduct a strip search.
Section 5. Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, all searches conducted pursuant to this act must comply fully with
the "reasonbleness standard" set forth in New Jersey v.T.L.O., 469 U.S.328 (1985). All school administrators must
receive training in the "reasonableness standard" under existing case law and in district procedures etablished to
be followed in conducting searches of persons entering the school premises and of the students attending the

B. Educational circumstances in Japan
(1) Report: By the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture ( Oct.1997 )
Number of Answer:
Elementary school students ( Age: 10 & 11)..... 17,108
Junior high school students ( Age: 12,13 & 14)..26,943
Senior high school students ( Age: 15,16 & 17)..29.377

Q, Do you think carrying drugs or using drugs is bad behavior for students ?
A, " Yes "
Elementary school boys ( Age: 10 ) ........73.6 %
Elementary school girls ( Age: 10 ) ........79.3 %
Junior high school boys ( Age: 13 ) ........68.3 %
Junior high school girls( Age: 13 ) ........79.2 %
Senior high school boys ( Age: 16 ) ........54.6 %
Senior high school girls( Age: 16 ) ........72.4 %

Q. Do you think getting drugs is easier for students than before ?
A. " Yes "
Elementary school boys ( Age: 10 ) ........48.4 %
Elementary school girls ( Age: 10 ) ........49.4 %
Junior high school boys ( Age: 13 ) ........70.9 %
Junior high school girls( Age: 13 ) ........75.5 %
Senior high school boys ( Age: 16 ) ........79.2 %
Senior high school girls( Age: 16 ) ........81.6 %

(2) Report: By the National Committee of Education ( April,1998 )
" Recently, juvenile delinquency is gradually becoming worse and worse in Japan, and the number of atrocious crimes such as
burglary, using drugs and sexual crimes is increasing. They are usually committed by junior high school and seinior high school
students, and the motivations of their delinquencies are there on getting money to enjoy entertainment."