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Are Schools Allowed To Search Your Child?

The Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable search and seizures applies to searches of students in public schools.   However, private or religious school students are not afforded those same constitutional protections.   In the context of public schools, students have a legitimate expectation of privacy, but because school officials need to maintain order in schools – a student’s reasonable expectation of privacy is lower than the public at large.   This means that, under the Fourth Amendment, school officials do not need to demonstrate probable cause or a warrant to initiate a search.  Instead, the school official needs to show that the search was reasonable under the circumstances.  When determining whether a search was reasonable, a parent or student must look at two factors: (1) was such search justified at its inception (will it turn up evidence of misconduct) and (2) was the search limited in its execution (reasonable in scope).   If your child is the subject of a disciplinary proceeding or criminal investigation arising out of a search and seizure at school, and you have questions – please feel free to contact the New York Education Attorneys and New York criminal attorneys at Bashian & Papantoniou.

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