15. School Searches and Seizure ( the U.S. 3 )
Japanese version is here
Urine Testing, by Drug-Sniffing Dogs & by Metal Detector
Even now in October 1998, authorized standards on School Searches and Seizure in the U. S. is only one :
New Jersey v. T. L. O. ( 1985 ), and in lower courts and school boards it has been cited in their decisions
and regulations. For instance, Illinois Law : Education Law, ruled as follows ;
" New Jersey v. T. L. O. is still the gravamen of Fourth Amendment issues in Illinois school law. In T. L. O. ,
the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that teachers and school authorities do not need a warrant before searching
a student, and are not required to adhere to the requirement that searches be based on probable cause.
Rather, the legality of a student search depends on "reasonableness" under the circumstances, which is
determined by where the action was justified at its inception, and whether the search was reasonably
related in scope to the circumstances which originally justified the search. "
Like this, T. L. O. answered many questions for school officials, but it left just as many unanswered. Here,
I will describe outlines or some key points of the following common types of searches in school : Locker
Searches, Vehicle Searches, Strip Searches, Urine Testing, Seaches by Drug-Sniffing Dogs, Searches by
Metal Detector Machines, and I will add some comments and datas in Japan.
References here are the Article : School Searches of Students and Seizure of their Property on WWW.
( LawCrawler ), " Journal of Law & Education ( Jefferson Law Book Company ), U. S. A. court cases, and
some others noted at the end of this monograph.
1. Locker Searches
They do not have so difficult problems on school locker searches, for lockers are under the joint control of
the studentys and school officials. School lockers are the property of Public Schools.
○ Key points
・School law, School district regulation or written school policies that require schools to maintain
custodianship over lockers.
・To inform students and parents of this ploicy in writing.
・By school authorities, for any reason at any time, without notice, without student consent and without
warrant. ( Cited from ) " School Searches of Students and Seizure of the their Property", under-mentioned
as "their Property" and "Student Searches and the Law",NSSC(1995), under-mentioned as "the Law".
Cases: S.C. v. State ( 583 So. 2d, 188 Miss. 1991 )
○ Key points: Legal and constitutional
・There is utter certainty that states law, school district regulations, or written school policies.
・A student kept two guns in his locker.
・The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the conducting was a reasonable standard of T.L.O.
People v. Dukes ( 580 NY 2d 850, NY Crime Ct. 1992 )
○ Key points: Legal and constitutional
・New York City high school
・The same reason as the above-mentioned. After that, the medal detector searches have been done.
2. Vehicle Searches
There are not so difficult problems on vehicle searches on the school parking lots like school locker
searches, for the parking lots are the school property and students usually would be required to
obtain a parking pass and the pass would include a serach consent.
Cases: State v. Slattery ( 56 Wash. App. 820, 787 P. 2d 932, 1990 )
○ Key points: Reasonable search. Washington Court of Appeals
・ School's vice principal received information that a student was selling marijuana in the school
・ School security guards were called in, who foung nothing in the student's locker. Next, he searched
the student's car, and found a paper and notebook containing notations of names and dollar amounts.
He proceeded to open the car trunk and a locked briefcases found inside, discovered was over 80.2
grams of marijuana.
・The court found that the need to make the search without delay, in addition, to other factors, made it
logical and constitutional for the school. ( Cited: "their Property" & "the Law" )
Parking off school property
Searches of vehicles parked off school property, thogh within a school zone, should be left to law
enforcement. ( Cited: "the Law" )
3. Strip Searches
A strip search is condidered so instrusive that the practical-reality is that many court will require a standard
of evidence much nearer to probale cause standard othe the Fourt Amendment than reasonable suspiction.
Cases: State excel. Galford v. Mark Anthony B. ( 433. S.E. 2d 41, W.Va. 1993 )
○ Key points : Illigal strip search. West Virginia
・ In West Virginia the strip search of 14-old 8th grade student for a missing $100.
・ It was likely that Mark Anthony B. had been in Galford's classroom alone. He was asked to lower his
pants in the bathroom and pull his underwear open in front and back. The missing & 100 was in the back
of the underwear.
・ But, the court held that, in the absence of exigent circumstances that necessite an immediate search in
order to ensure the safety of other student, the warratless strip of a student by a school official is presumed
to be "excessive intrusive" and thus unreasonable in scope. However, the possibility that a strip search for
guns or drugs, which pose far greater danger to other students might under exigent circumstances be
justified. ( From "the Law" & "Education Law Update. Search & Seizure Winter, 1996-1997 )
Jenkins v. Tailadega City Bd. of Edu. ( 115 F. 3d 821, 11th Cir. 1997 )
○ Key points: Legal strip search, Alabama
・In 1992, two Alabama girls were eight-year -old second graders at G. Elementary School and a classmate
accused one of them of stealing &7 and putting it in the backpack of the other girl.
・No money was found. The girls accused each other, as well as a male classmate. Two girls were taken
to a rest room and told to remove their clothes and to come out of the toilet stalls with their underpants
down to their ankles, which they did, but no money was found.
・Federal lower court dismissed the lawsuit, and an appeal court upheld the decision.
・ " We affirm all of the district summary judgement orders, " Reassonably related in scope to the circumstances
which justified the search.
・ But, 3 judges, dissentings. And The School Board acknowledged that the music teacher had committed a
"gross error" in judgement, but rejected the superintendent's recommendation that the music teacher be fired.
【Comment】 I think strip search is a difficlt problem in any school. In fact, there was original circumstance that a
classmate accused them of stealing, and it was reasonably related in which justified the strip
search at first? And then we have to consider how about balance of the school order and the
McMinnville case ( 1998 )
From "Oregon Live:News 2/8/98 & 3/18 "Strip Search Crows From Zero Torerance" by Chastity Pratt and Bill Graves
○ Key points : Much discussion of the search
・Jan.29, several girls returning to the girl's locker room after gym class reported 10 items were missing.
Operating on the belief that the thief was probably someone in the class.
・ Two woment police employees ordered the girls to shake out their bras and pull down their underwear in a
・The city and school district offered a settlement of &5.000 to each family of the girls who agreed not to sue. The
policeman in charge of the incident was suspended for 30 days without pay and had his job status changed.
【Comment】Except cases involving drugs or weapons, how difficult a strip search for stealing of money there is in Continue to ..... 4.Urine Testing, 5.Searches by Drug-Sniffing Dogs, 6. Searches by Metal Detector
the U.S. schools! In Japan in such a case, home-room teacher usually appeals to the consciousness
of the student who has stolen money and will let him or her return the stolen money secretly, and
fortunately this way will succeed in the end, for all the students finally remind good friedship among
them. But, I do know if this way will continue or not in the future in Japan.