In January of 1985, A New Jersey secondary school teacher found a pair of girls smoking in a bathroom and escorted them to the principal’s office. One girl admitted what she was accused of and the other, T.L.O. denied the accusations. The head of the school searched the girl’s purse and found evidence of selling drugs, such as marijuana.
As a consequence she was taken to the police station and charges were issued against her after she enclosed to the judge she has smoked and distributed drugs in school. The Juvenile Court sided with the school and the responsible student took the case to New Jersey’s Supreme Court where it was established administrators do need search warrants to search adolescence. Eventually the Supreme Court reversed the ruling in favor of school ground safety and the individual received a years probation. Similarly in 1991, a student named James Acton and his parents refused to sign a consent form to be tested for drugs in order to play football. Considering student athletes supposedly were seen as “leaders of drug culture” in the Vernonia School District, established in Oregon, confirmation of adolescent health was necessary. The policy written required all those who desired to participate with interscholastic athletic teams to submit urinalysis drug testing and pass. Therefore the seventh grader was not permitted to engage in sports at school, resulting in the liable family taking the case to Federal District Court and eventually the Supreme Court with both counsels siding with the school. Cleary, there is an undeniable resemblance between the two cases in that they both query the fourth amendment in regards to the education system.
In both cases, the census that the investigations didn’t in fact violate the need of a search warrant was achieved in order to protect their peers and the faculty of the educational facility. This is not meant to deprive students of their rights under the constitution, but to keep the environment balanced and respectable for a student body. Unlike police officers, school officials use reasonable suspicion, (slightly below probable cause) to be given the right to search. For both litigations the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 with the associated schools involved. In New Jersey v T.L.
O. it does not go unnoticed that school officials may be subject to limits among the fourth amendment. The rulings were consistent clearly in the decade because within the Vernonia v Acton case, the court ruled that school administrators are in fact “agents of the state” and have the ability (under loco parentis) to search students for items that may danger those around them, acknowledging the impact of New Jersey v T.
L.O on future cases. The court also mentioned that being involved in physical activities declares even more reason for testing in order to monitor the stresses put on the body, more so than a regular student who is not interested in sports. Even then, yearly check ups and vaccinations are required by school districts just to attend day school. The involvement of drugs and marijuana are evident problems in schools today and in previous years, and are prominent in both lawsuits as an intimidation factor for both young students. The desire for close supervision by both school districts is not hard to understand, and a refusal by a student who supposedly “never had a history with drugs” is suspicious and unnecessary. There distinctly needs to be flexibility within the student-teacher relationship, and retaining a warrant to search for contraband would disrupt the swift flow of disciplinary actions taken when needed. In regards to the New Jersey v T.
L.O. case even now states suggest leaving personal items at home, other than the obvious school supplies and keys and wallets. Urinalysis examinations are also used today for not only athletes, but non-active students as well, as a yearly requirement for checkups with a pediatrician or family doctor in correlation to the Vernonia v. Acton case.
Both litigations represent examples on the necessity of balancing safety and constitutional rights in educational surroundings.