Reasonableness Standard Cited In School Searches

1985

After a student is caught smoking in her high school restroom, her purse is searched by an assistant vice principal who finds evidence that the student is dealing marijuana. The student confesses but appeals her conviction, saying the search was illegal so the evidence was not admissible. In New Jersey v. T.L.O., the U.S. Supreme Court says that the Fourth Amendment applies to public school officials but that a less strict standard applies. Instead of probable cause, school officials may conduct searches based on reasonable suspicion that school rules are being violated. The search must be limited to confirming that suspicion. The Court rules the search of the student’s purse did not violate the Fourth Amendment.