Education Law

Fourth Amendment Rights and Searches at School: Frequently Asked Questions

By E.A. Gjelten, Author and Editor
When can a teacher or principal search a student’s phone, locker, or backpack? Can a school force you to take a drug test or conduct a strip search? Look below for answers to common questions about privacy rights at school.

Thanks to the continuing popularity of police procedural TV shows, many young people know that the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects them from unreasonable searches by police. So students often assume they have the same rights when teachers or principals want to look through their backpacks or phones. It’s true that the Fourth Amendment applies in the context of public schools, but students’ privacy rights are more limited than if they were adults dealing with law enforcement. Read below for more information about how search-and-seizure law works at school.

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