ERIC Number: EJ919363
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Oct
Reference Count: 14
The Supreme Court and Strip Searches
Russo, Charles J.
School Business Affairs, v75 n9 p22-24 Oct 2009
Maintaining a safe, orderly learning environment is a significant challenge for education leaders, especially when students insist on bringing alcohol, weapons, and drugs into schools. To compound that challenge, educators who wish to uncover contraband must do so within the confines of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourth Amendment as permitting searches of students and their property and drug testing of student athletes. With regard to a more controversial type of search, lower courts have reached varied decisions regarding the constitutionality of strip searches. Although most courts have rejected their use, some have ruled that they do not violate the Fourth Amendment. Still others have rejected claims for imposing personal liability on officials who performed such searches. However, in a dispute from Arizona, "Redding v. Safford Unified School District No. 1" (2008c), the Ninth Circuit rejected an assistant principal's motion for qualified immunity shielding him from liability after he ordered the strip search of a student who violated board policy by possessing ibuprofen in school. On further review, the Supreme Court affirmed that the search was unconstitutional, but also ruled that the assistant principal was entitled to immunity since the student's rights were not clearly established at that time the search occurred. "Redding" raises questions about the limits of strip searches and the need for student privacy if local officials develop policies for such searches. When dealing with strip searches, educators should proceed with extreme caution in balancing legitimate student expectations of privacy and school safety.
Descriptors: Educational Environment, School Safety, Student Rights, Privacy, Courts, Court Litigation, Drug Use Testing, Athletes, Constitutional Law, Assistant Principals
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Fourth Amendment