It is overwhelming how much controversy there can be over simple statements. It may have been written over two hundred years ago, but people are still confused over this matter. As attorneys, our first intent is to express the reasoning behind student searches.
It is obvious that there has been a major increase in the number of student property searches in schools from the time of the drafting of the Fourth Amendment (1791), until now. It is equally obvious that the amount of violence and drug use has also increased dramatically. When the Fourth Amendment was passed, there were few schools, resulting in few students. There were really no problems such as the serious ones we deal with in schools today. The people of that time had no idea of the problems we would face today, and had they known of the controversy that was to come into play, they would have most likely clarified a difference in the application of the Fourth Amendment to adults, and to the youth (students).
We cannot be absolutely positive whom the Fourth Amendment was solely written for; however, it is known that it protects student and adult citizens from searches without reasonable cause. Unless students have something to hide, generally they do not have a problem locker and desk searches. Even though the majority is in agreement to the random searches, the few who disagree bring up difficulties in the situation . It is for those individuals that this legal brief has a purpose.
According to the state of Georgia and the majority of the United Sates, locker searches without a warrant or student consent is perfectly legal. Let it be known that the lockers and other school storage spaces, open for student use, belong to the school district. Students are just renting the space that they are assigned to. Being the property of the school district, it is up to them to keep and maintain their property. Due to the ownership of the storage spaces, a school official or school liaison officer may search them, if there is reasonable cause1. If an illegal or disruptive object/substance is found, the school has a right to remove it/them. They may be returned at a later date depending on the school s rules. To solve the confusion, a copy of the procedure is printed in the student handbook, which every student receives at the beginning of the school year.
Backpacks and personally owned items by the students are in the same category. We personally disagree with this, because a student should have more privacy. Seeing that backpacks are no the property of the school district, shouldn t the requirements to search the student s property be more distinct? Many students feel the same way. This creates even more controversy among the student body. There have been several cases dealing with the application of the Fourth Amendment to school searches. It has been found that warrants are not required because they may take up time and interfere with the maintenance of the swift and informal
1Reasonable cause is defined as a reasonable belief that some illegal substance or material is kept in the space, or something possibly harmful to the safety of the student or student body, or significantly disruptive/dangerous to the overall discipline of the school.