Can a school staff search a child without parental consent? 33 Answers as of June 02, 2013

I was called after the search and it was hearsay. His eyes are red. The bus comes at 6:20 am. No witness or evidence, but they made him remove shoes and empty pockets. The gym teacher searched him.

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Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
We as citizens are free from unreasonable search and seizure only when the government the one searching. There is nothing in our Constitution that protects us against school staff searching our belongings.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/9/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
This is a very fact specific situation, under some circumstances a child could be searched by school staff without a parent being called.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 11/7/2011
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
It would appear that the search was legal, however, if you have questions about it, you should contact an attorney for further advise.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/7/2011
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
It depends on the circumstances but if they question him later it might be illegal.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/7/2011
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
School staff are not part of a governmental agency and, as such, are not controlled by any rules other than their own. You are free to complain to the school board but the courts will not intervene.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/7/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    You may wish to have a civil rights attorney review this claim. It is different from a criminal defense issue. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    Yes. School officials have much more latitude in searching students than police officers.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    There are special rules for school searches and searches can be conducted without formal probable cause as long as they are not arbitrary and harassing.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Your description needs to be more specific because it's not clear exactly what went on. A school can have its officials search children and their belongings if they have reasonable suspicion that they may find contraband or dangerous weapons. It is a much lower standard and they do not have as much protection as adults have. School officials can search children without the parents present or being notified.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/5/2011
    Epstein & Conroy
    Epstein & Conroy | David B. Epstein
    When one speaks of the legality of searches, a major question is one's expectation of privacy" Obviously in one's home, one would expect privacy. however in public settings, especially when one is near large groups of people your expectation of privacy is diminished. usually students in a school setting have less rights than other people in their homes, on the street, etc. Furthermore, if the gym teacher is not working in a capacity of law enforcement, it may be that you cannot claim that he is bound by the search and seizure laws. Nevertheless, if you have a forum to challenge the gym teacher's right to invade your child's privacy you should still make the claim that he was searched with no cause and that his privacy was infringed.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/5/2011
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Yes. There is a US Supreme Court case: New Jersey v. T.L.O. in which two students were caught smoking cigarettes in the girl's room. They were taken to the principal's office. One student admitted to smoking. The other denied it. The principal took the second girl's purse, searched it and found a pack of smokes. He also observed rolling papers. He continued searching and found dope. The girl was charged, she moved to suppress, it was denied and she was found guilty of possession. She appealed to the US Supreme Court. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court held that the school principal's search was reasonable. The Supreme's held that all the school officials needed to search was a reasonable suspicion.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/5/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Weather it is legal for a teacher to search an under 18 year old student at school depends on many factors. If the school does not have a written policy on student searches then the search has to be based on a reasonable standard. In a school setting one of the factors considered in the reasonable standard is a weighing of the right of the student to expect privately in the area that is searched with the safety of the schools students and staff. With all the drugs and weapons in schools in the near past, the safety issue is given more weight than it may have before. Some schools now have search conditions as part of the student handbook that the student and parent are required to sign before the child is allowed to attend the school. If your son has a school with the clause in its handbook then you or your attorney needs to read and determine if the search of your son fell under the rules of that handbook. Under the limited facts you gave in your question a court would rule that it was a reasonable search. If the school staff had reasonable suspicion that your son had a weapon or drugs on him then the safety of the school out ways the limited search conducted by the gym teacher.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Yes. A child on school property can be searched by school officials without notice to you.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
    The Supreme Court has held that a search of a student by a teacher or other school official will be justified at its inception when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school. What the court has essentially held, is that the students Fourth Amendment rights are not lost at the school gate, but at the same token also specifically states that searches by school officials do not require warrants. Further, such warrantless searches are lawful as long as the official conducting the search reasonably suspects that the search will produce evidence of a crime or of a violation of a school regulation. Additionally, in further cases the Supreme Court has held that Securing order in the school environment sometimes requires that students be subjected to greater controls than those appropriate for adults. Without first establishing discipline and maintain order, teachers cannot begin to educate their students. And apart from education, the school has an obligation to protect pupils from mistreatment by other children, and also to protect teachers themselves from violence by a few students whose conduct in recent years has prompted national concern. Therefore, going by the facts you have provided in your question, if the gym teacher could reasonably suspect that a search of your son will produce evidence of a crime or a violation of a school regulation, and that is necessary to maintain order, then the fact that the gym teacher only had hearsay evidence to proceed with a search does not mean that it was not reasonable for the gym teacher to do so in the situation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Searches can be justified, if conducted by school authorities without parental consent, if they feel the student is committing or has committed a crime. Of course, if nothing is found, no harm had been done.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    School officials have a lot of discretion in searching lockers and students if they suspect there might be something that could effect student safety. Children in school do not enjoy the Fourth Amendment right against search and seizure that adults do, so yes, they can generally search without parental consent.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    There is no hard and fast rule about such a search. Though it could constitute an assault.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    School officials are permitted to search students for the protection of the school. The right to be free from search and seizure does not apply in a school. If police involved or direct search then constitution applies.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    In some instances, a search without parental consent is appropriate. Since you provide me with no facts in which I can consider in answering your question, I cannot do so. Retain the services of an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    Impossible to answer without a lot more details. What was he found to be in possession of? If he wasn't caught with anything he wasn't supposed to have, then there's no issue here. If, on the other hand, he was caught with drugs, weapons, stolen property, etc., he may have a defense based on an arguably unlawful search. Like I said, though, it's tough to tell whether or not the search was justified without knowing more of the details.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    The teachers at a school do not need your permission to question a student, search them or their locker, or ask them to remove their shoes and empty their pockets. They should not do a strip search or full body cavity search, but they can do what is necessary to ensure the safety of the other students. The constitutional rights against unreasonable searches apply to law enforcement agencies, not private citizens so whatever they find cannot be suppressed as the product of an illegal search as is the case for a police search.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Your facts are disjointed. School staff can search your child, the same way you want the school to search any child the school thinks is a threat to school safety (i.e. drugs,. guns). What was hearsay? I am assuming that the case was about drugs. They can search your child.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
    Yes, they can, in certain situations. I'd recommend you retain a lawyer to review their policies and make sure they complied with the proper protocol during the search.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    Yes, the school can search your child without you present and without your permission. According to Supreme Court of the United States minors have a reduced expectation of privacy than adults. The article that I highlighted is not the exact same issue however it goes over a common misconception about juvenile law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    Apparently they did so with or without consent. Normally, a school official has the right to seach students without parental consent.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Yes, schools have different powers to search their students. If he was caught with anything, hire an attorney immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Absolutely if the staff member has a reasonable suspicion that the student is in possession of weapons or drugs. There must be a factual basis but it isn't a real high burden.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Baner and Baner
    Baner and Baner | Jonathan Baner
    They do not need your consent generally speaking.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    School staff generally have more rights over the rights of children's privacy. As a result, I am sorry that there might not be a violation by the school staff of your child. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/4/2011
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel | Gregory M. Abel
    Yes, unfortunately in Oregon School officials can ask a student to open his locker, open his book bag, empty his pockets and remove his shoes without parental consent.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/4/2011
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