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date: 05 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses problems faced by educators attempting to provide their students with a safe and effective learning environment. Drugs and weapons in many schools pose serious safety and discipline problems, while threats of violence from sources outside the school have become increasingly serious. Educators deal with these problems while students enjoy Fourth Amendment rights. Often the privacy rights of students conflict with the interests of school officials. The task of the law is to accommodate the respective interests of educators and students. The discussion herein addresses some of these issues of student privacy and safety. The examination of school privacy focuses on the extent to which the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” applies to those attending public schools. The Fourth Amendment discussion illustrates the often-conflicting obligation of educators to keep those in their charge safe while at the same time respecting student privacy concerns. School safety interests also exist outside the context of the Fourth Amendment as illustrated by strategies to keep schools safe from threats such as those dramatically manifested by school shootings killing multiple students. Some such strategies, along with discussion of the dangers of cell phones in schools, will be reviewed in this chapter. The Fourth Amendment section considers the relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing student rights under the Fourth Amendment, as well as reviewing lower court cases treating issues left open by the Supreme Court. The chapter concludes by highlighting school safety issues not directly involving the Fourth Amendment.

Keywords: Student privacy, Student safety, Search and seizure, Reasonable suspicion, School discipline, Exclusionary rule

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