Searches by drug-sniffing dogs
The mere possession, without use, of drugs on school grounds has been discussed as a threat to school safety and security in case after case, without examination or citation of any evidence of a causal effect between drug possession and unsafe schools. The perception of the inherent and overwhelming danger of drugs to school safety reached its zenith in the recently-decided Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton (1995), to be discussed later, but other cases concerning drug-sniffing dogs also rely on that implicit assumption.
Although the U. S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutional limits on drug sniffing by dogs as a student search issue, lower Federal courts have been divided on the threshold question of whether sniffing constitutes any “search” at all. Fifteen years ago, in Doe v. Renfrow (1980), trained dogs went up and down the classroom rows of over 2,500 junior and senior high school students, sniffing for drugs. If the dog responded to a particular student, that student was searched, sometimes strip searched. When such a student sued the school district for an unlawful search, the court held that the sniff was no search at all and that the school authorities had acted reasonably in searching the possessions of the student after the dog indicated the presence of drugs. However, it also found that, pursuant to T. L.O., the strip search had been impermissibly intrusive in scope and therefore unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Many commentators, as well as other court decisions from the same period, have been critical of that technical denial of student rights and have posited different findings. In Horton v. Goose Creek Independent School District (1982), the court found that sniffing a person was in fact a search, as students’ persons certainly are not the subject of lowered expectations of privacy in school, and that the Fourth Amendment applies with its fullest vigor against any intrusion on the human body. Consequently, when joined to the T. L.O. analysis, sniffing a student would only be permitted after there is a reasonable, individualized suspicion of a student’s drug possession, according to Jennings v. Joshua Independent School District (1989).
As repugnant as the Horton and Jennings courts found drug-sniffing to the highly protected integrity of the body, they found no such barrier to approving drug-sniffing of inanimate objects, namely students’ lockers and cars. Such searching was found to be particularly acceptable if the students’ expectation of privacy in lockers and cars is limited by school policies that are known to them and that specify school retention of some rights over that property. Further, the courts reasoned, school staff members simply walking through the locker area or the student parking lot who had, for example, smelled marijuana smoke, were merely passing by public areas. They came across items or smells in “plain view” and therefore were not intruding in any way that constituted a search.
One case at the lower court level goes even further towards protecting students from drug-sniffing. In Jones v. Latexo Independent School District (1980), drug-sniffing of all students and their vehicles was considered a “search” and further found to be unreasonable. The court here found that the absence of individualized suspicion, the use of large, trained, attack animals, the detection of odors outside the range of the human nose, and the intrusiveness of a search of the students’ persons combined to make the sniffing unreasonable. Thus, it followed that since the students had no access to their cars during the school day, the school’s interest in sniffing the cars was minimal and therefore searching them was also unreasonable. In soundly rejecting the Doe view, it posited the dictum that although the school environment was a factor to be considered, it did not automatically outweigh all other factors and thereby make all searches reasonable.
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Education Box 40, Teachers College Columbia University New York, New York 10027 212/678-3433 800/601-4868 212/678-4012 (Fax) Director: Erwin Flaxman Associate Director: Larry R. Yates Managing Editor: Wendy Schwartz This publication was produced by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, United States Department of Education, under contract number RR93002016, and from Teachers College, Columbia University. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the position or policies of OERI or the Department of Education. Preventing Violence in Schools Gang Activity at School: Prevention Strategies School Violence and the Legal Rights of Students: Selected Issues
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Drug testing Until last year, the short answer to the question of whether schools could mandate all or a class of students to submit to blood and urine tests for drugs, was “no” (Price, 1988). It had been universally found that, even if the purpose of the test was solely medical, it would violate the reasonable privacy Which of these two school policies do you think is better? Some high schools require all students to wear school uniforms. Other high schools permit students to decide what to wear to school. Which of these two school policies do you think is better?
I think that the issue about whether all students must be required to wear school uniform is the one that is Great Teachers, Bad Students «I have a student in my second hour class who is an idiot.» Students probably have never heard their teachers complaining about them in the halls. In contrast, a person could roam Jefferson and hear conversations about how terrible teachers are from every corner of the school. «I got an F - on the final Great Teachers, Bad Students «I have a student in my second hour class who is an idiot.» Students probably Have never heard their teachers complaining about them in the halls. In Contrast, a person could roam Jefferson and hear conversations about how Terrible teachers are from every corner of the school. «I got an F - on the Final School locker searches Most legal authorities state that the validity of locker searches is dependent on the students’ reasonable expectations of privacy, which can be affected by school policies designating the lockers as student or school property, and student notification that the school will conduct periodic searches for contraband or will retain a master key to the locker
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