School Staff Knows That the Student Has Contraband

Legal Foundations

Did Mr. Thomas do right by searching his student’s backpack just because he overheard two students talking about another student having a knife? The fourth amendment says that people are safe against unreasonable searches (Ehlenberger, K. R., n.d.). The amendment is not exclusive it also applies to students in public schools (Ehlenberger, K. R., n.d.). In 1985, New jersey vs T.L.O. the high school searched T.L.O’s purse because they believed she had cigarettes Cover, M. (1985). The school found cigarettes, and a tiny bit of marijuana, also a list that had the names of students who had to pay her money. T.L.O. was charged with possession of marijuana Cover, M. (1985). Before the trial, T.L.O. moved to overturn evidence found in the search. T.L.O was found guilty and was sentenced to probation for a year (Cover, M. (1985).

The New Jersey Supreme Court stated that the rule of the Fourth Amendment also applicable in searches made at schools. The supreme court made the decision that the schools can do student searches without needing a warrant. The Court set standards for student searches: reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion may depend on the situation behind the search. The search should be based on more than an instinct or a rumor (Stader, D. L. (2002). Reasonable suspicion consists of seeing a student violating school rules or information received from students, parents, or school officials (Stader, D. L. (2002). Before doing a search, the teacher or school official should really reflect and think of the creditability of the information (Stader, D. L. (2002). Students do not have to give consent to being searched unless the school staff knows for sure that the student has a weapon or contraband (Ehlenberger, K. R., n.d.).

A lot of school policies, state that the school has to ask students to provide consent to a search (Ehlenberger, K. R., n.d.). In the case of DesRoches vs Caprio, a student’s shoes went missing so the teacher made the decision to search all the students in the class (Dowling-Sendor, B. (1998). The whole class agreed to be searched except for two students (Dowling-Sendor, B. (1998).The school did not find the shoes on the students that gave consent to be searched. DesRoches was suspended for ten days for not giving permission to be searched (Dowling-Sendor, B. (1998). DesRoches expressed that the school did not have a valid reason to search him (Dowling-Sendor, B. (1998). The court said that because the search of other students in the class was unsuccessful and they did not find the stolen shoes, the administrator had a valid reason to search (Dowling-Sendor, B. (1998).


Some of the actions that could have prevented Mr. Thomas from searching his students backpack illegally are: Mr. Thomas could have read or contacted the school principal or administrators about the school’s search policies before acting. Mr. Thomas should have not search students backpack without an administrator or officer present. Overhearing two students talk about another student having a knife in my opinion could be debatable if it’s a reasonable suspicion to search . I think Mr. Thomas should have recorded and reflected what he heard before searching, Mr. Thomas should have written down the polices he followed and why he was searching the student also what made him suspicious of the student. As a teacher if I were in a similar situation as Mr. Thomas I would have followed the school policies. I would have first contacted the principal or an administrator so they can guide my actions, I would talk with the student that potentially has the knife on him and make sure an officer or administrator is there when the searching begins. Depending on the school’s policies the administrator or school officer takes care of the searching and dealing with the student. I think doing it that way would be much safer and covers me from being accused of committing an illegal search or being hurt. As a teacher, I think the best thing to do is to respect your student’s privacy and follow school policies to keep a good learning and working environment.

Pedagogical Skills

A situation like that one that occurred to Mr. Thomas could assist me in developing my pedagogy skills in many ways. My goal as a teacher is to provide my students with a safe learning environment. One of the ways a situation like Mr. Thomas could help me improve/develop my pedagogy skills is by making me grow and have better understanding of the rules and policies at the school. It could also help me have a better understanding of my own pedagogy. Having a clear understanding of my pedagogy is key because students can follow, students will know what to expect, what not to do, and how to respond to certain to situations. It will also motivative students to engage in great discussion with other students and myself. An experience like the one Mr. Thomas had could help me understand what works and what does not work.