Antioch Law Journal


Lois Yankowski


The fourth amendment rights of students subjected to searches by school administrators or teachers has been the subject of much legal debate and confusion.' The Supreme Court has never considered the issue of search and seizure in the schools and has never addressed even the more general question of whether fourth amendment protections apply to juveniles. The lower courts which have examined the school search issue, with one exception,2 have provided students with substantially less fourth amendment protection than adults in non-school environments enjoy. These courts have focused on the in loco parentis status of school officials and have found that either (1) no state action is involved and, therefore, no fourth amendment rights apply,3 or, (2)while there is state action, the in loco parentis status of school officials and their unique responsibilities and powers justify a less than probable cause standard for searches. Some school administrators, perhaps inspired by this judicially permissive attitude towards school searches, have resorted to the use of strip searches of students in an effort to control drug use. This paper will focus on the fourth amendment rights of students with respect to personal searches7 conducted by school officials without the involvement of law enforcement authorities. Special emphasis will be given to exploring the rights of students in relation to strip searches since use of this tactic seems to be gaining popularity among school officials.