Public schools are places that are safe for most parents compared with other areas. However, there has been a great deal of discussion on teaching techniques, acceptable classroom environments and questions of privacy at this controlled government agency. The key private problem in public schools in America today lies between safeguarding the school and preserving the privacy of the pupil. The Bill of Rights, which usually covers searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment points out that the rights of the individuals under their personal property, papers, and houses are secure against any unreasonable seizures and searches thus shall not be sullied and no warrants issued. Within the Bill of Rights, people are also guaranteed their right of privacy thus protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, which are typically carried out without any “probable cause,” proof that is satisfactory to search and seizure or warrants an arrest (Lauren, Ridenour). Nonetheless, children in our public school systems are not afforded this right due to the vagueness of the Bill of Rights in its depiction of what encompasses “probable cause,” thus many cases brought forward to the Supreme Court to debate if there was satisfactory proof for the seizure or search to occur in the schools. For instance, in the New Jersey versus T.L.O whereby the judge found that the officials in the school did not need probable cause to search students or seize their property, only ‘reasonableness’ at the start of the investigation. In this paper, several points as to why the fourth amendment in the Bill of rights should protect all Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures conducted without probable cause or sufficient proof to warrant arrest, seizure of property, or search including children in public schools are well argued.
Generally, under the reasonableness standard in assessing the T.L.O case facts, the court narrowed its deliberation to whether the assistant principal initially had reasonable grounds in suspecting that the search that she carried out would avail the evidence that the student had gone against the school rule, which prohibits people from smoking in the bathroom. The court mistakenly finalized that T.L.O did (Iannucci, Nicandro). Smoking was allowed in selected locations in the school; the absence or presence of cigarettes in T.L.O’s purse does not offer conclusive proof that she has been smoking in the bathroom. School authorities may search school properties, vehicles, and students themselves for the possession of drugs as long as the searches are carried out under the boards’ policy, law, administrative regulations (Riverside Unified School District). This becomes patent if the conservation, which preceded the search, is altered momentarily. Suppose that instead of making a claim that she did not smoke at all, T.L.O had said that she does smoke but only in the locations designated and not in the bathroom. The presence of cigarettes in her purse would not be any proof of any misconduct, and the assistant principal would have no cause to carry out the search. The court went astray in concentrating on T.L.O credibility that was undermined by the availability of cigarettes in her purse. School officials have no mandate in carrying out a search to find out whether the student is fibbing or not. According to the court’s standard, a search must be expected to unearth proof, which a student has violated a rule instituted by the school. Whether a student has failed in telling the truth is not relevant to the decision of conducting a search thus should not be taken into any account to assess search validity. Hence, if the court did consider T.L.O’s search to be justified by her assumed lie, it stepped out the standard, which it had set. Typically, lying is not a crime, which can trigger an invasion of privacy and override the fourth amendment rights. Besides, the court ignored the second section of the needed analysis. The court pragmatically did not consider whether the actions that the assistant principal adopted were reasonably connected to the item of the search and not extremely meddling in the infraction nature and the light of sex and age of T.L.O. The infraction involved in this case at most ignores somewhat minor school regulation.
The finding of weed should be placed aside for the moment since initially the search was not motivated by the suspicion of drugs. In fact, it can be weighed that the search was not even instigated by any infraction but by the assistant principal annoyance that the student lied to him. If this is true, then he abused his position thus unjustifiably invaded the student’s privacy. Moreover, the court failed to pay attention to sex and age of students as well as the nature of the search. As per the California Education Code 200-220, nobody should be discriminated against or harassed by sex, gender, color, race, or ethnic disability (Kemerer and Sansom 347). For instance, if a male school official emptied and took a look at the teenage girls’ purse, he may have uncovered some of the girls’ personal belongings that might have embarrassed her like contraceptives. This was not a little officious search that serves the crucial function to school safety or law enforcement, but rather a privacy invasion conducted under the objectives of keeping disciple in the school environment. Nonetheless, the court’s error did arise in part since it separated the search that was in question into two; first, cigarette search, and second, marijuana search. As indicated, concerning the first search, the court did not apply the second prong of the two-step analysis, which was required. Had it done so, the court would have come to a conclusion that the cigarette search was impermissible in capacity. And since the search was unreasonable, there no need in examining the legality of the consequent marijuana search, which should have never occurred. The court only did proceed to the reasonableness inquiry of the second prong when discussing the marijuana search and even there, it did so in a hasty way. The inopportune result concerning the courts’ methodology is that the violation nature, which prompted the initial search, was put under the carpet. The fact that the student was being punished for smoking the cigarette allegedly in the schools’ bathroom was no longer crucial. The whole occurrence was erroneously viewed as drug use crackdown in schools. Whereas the proof discovered in this particular search is somehow disturbing, it cannot be utilized ex-post in justifying the unseemly invasion of T.L.Os’ privacy.
The courts’ wrong application of reasonableness standard, in this case, shows a critical divergence from traditional fourth amendment analysis. Significant distinction based upon the extent of the search and the crimes offense evaporates. Cigarette smoking in a schools’ environment is equated with the utilization of a dangerous weapon as a gun. Groping a purse content becomes equivalent to detaining students in a classroom. In this broad standard application, students could be liable to unwanted and extreme privacy intrusion for going against some of the schools’ rules. A system that protected students’ justifiable privacy interests was indeed instituted but then made redundant in the T.L.O’s case. Reasonableness standard misuse also allowed the court to sarong the exclusionary rule question that was brought forward by the state court thus leaving students even more vulnerable. The rule only prohibits proof admission obtained in an illegal manner. Since the Supreme Court did rule that T.L.Os’ search was legal, it did not even bother to put the question in consideration of whether the proof obtained should have been debarred from use in the hearings. Generally, under the court’s utilization of the reasonable standard, students in the school environment receive critically less protection against privacy intrusion than do suspected criminals. The proof found from the school searches can be utilized in the criminal court and against students in the proceedings. The courts ought to draw a distinction between the criminal justice system and school setting. Students’ privacy rights should be respected, and the school environment traditional fourth amendment standards should also be modified. The decision of treating the school environment as inimitable should also not be disregarded. And if students are to be offered crucially less fourth amendment protection while under the school’s environment, then the proof obtained around the context of the school should only be utilized within the institutions own non-criminal sanction process.
When an officer request to interview a student, the director or principal shall request the law enforcer to provide his or her identity and legal authority before the interview is conducted and the director shall keep the records of the documentation. At the students’ approval and the officers in charge, is when the principal and designee may be present during the interview (“CSBA Sample Board Policy Apprehension and Questioning by Law Enforcement”). In the interrogation of school children by police officers without their parent’s concern, loco parents relationship that teachers acquire in the absence of children’s parent does not justify a denial of Fourth Amendment protection. Generally, in conducting seizures and searches as well as other punitive measures, school officials usually act as state representatives but not simply surrogates of their parents; hence, cannot assume their parent’s immunity as per the structures of the Fourth Amendment. The teacher-student relation does not reflect the parent-child relationship. Parents usually act with munificent intention in protecting their children; thus, in this relation, children possibly do not require safeguards from the Fourth Amendment. Parents usually put in place sound discretion in their children’s best interest at their hearts. On the other hand, teachers do not have that innately intimate relationship with the students. In the schools, the fourth amendment usually prevents capricious and gratuitous acts on teachers’ part. In the T.L.Os’ case, the judge made a ruling that students had reasonable privacy expectations and overruled the state’s point of argument that the privacy rights were inherently incompatible with maintaining the proper school environment. The court also repudiated that the idea of children’s interests in carrying along personal items into school is minimal. When the schools’ officials engage the police in the search, their conduct should be synchronized by established fourth amendment law thus the evidence that they collect should be judged in a fair manner.
It is expected for teachers always to recognize the justifiable privacy of students’ interests and to avoid carrying out irrational searches. From the New Jersey v T.L.O case, two prolonged tests that govern the student searches reasonableness. This test forbids searches that are prompted by inadequate proof and defines the methods, which are permissible in carrying out searches. It overtly demands from educators to consider the meticulous situations, which surround a rule allegedly violated. If the officials in the schools follow the test expressed by the court, they will be prevented from invading the privacy of the students. While the Supreme Court, advanced students rights countrywide, it upheld the violation of the student’s rights petitioning for relief. The Supreme Court inefficiently paid little attention to the nature of evidence brought forward against the defendant. It also failed to recognize her sex and age during the proceedings. It also failed to use the test, which it had designed in preserving the privacy of the students. The outcome of the T.L.Os’ case shows how students’ who are entitled to the fourth amendment protection and whose claims of unreasonable search have been brought to the Supreme Court have less comfort. Generally, the fourth Amendment should cover everyone including school children regarding their privacy rights; hence, creation of a good learning environment whereby everyone’s right is respected.
Ridenour, Lauren. “Search and Seizures: Is there such a thing as Privacy in School?” Roger Joyce Howe, Home for Writing Excellence, community.miamioh.edu, 2007,http//www. community.miamioh.edu/writingcontest2007/node/78. Accessed 21 April 2017.
“CSBA Sample Board Policy Questioning and Apprehension by Law Enforcement”. California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General. http://www.csba.org/GovernanceAndPolicyResources/ConditionsOfChildren/SafeSupportiveSchlEnvironment/~/media/CSBA/Files/GovernanceResources/EducationIssues/ConditionsofChildren/SafeAndSupportiveSchoolEnv/SchoolSafetySampleBoardPolicies/BP5145-11QuestioningApprehension.ashx. Accessed 28 April 2017.
Lannacci, Nicandro. “New Jersey v. T.L.O: The Fourth Amendment in Public Schools.” Constitution Daily, National Constitution Center, January 15, 2016, http//www.constitutioncenter.org/blog/new-jersey-v-t-l-o-the-fourth-amendment-in-public-schools. Accessed 25 April 2017.
Kemerer, F., & Sansom, P. California School Law: Second Edition. Stanford University Press, 2009.
Riverside Unified School District. “School Board Policy”, 7 Nov 1997, http//www.Rusdlink.org. Accessed 10 May 2017.