In a series of ongoing posts, our blog has been discussing the degree to which public school students are protected by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in relation to on-site searches.
Interestingly enough, this very issue is now at the center of a lawsuit filed by nine high school students against the sheriff’s department of Sylvester, Georgia, a small town located in the southwestern region of the state. It accuses the department of lacking the authority to have conducted a massive search of the student body this past spring that was “unreasonable, aggressive and invasive” in nature.
According to the complaint, the sheriff, along with 29 deputies, swarmed a county high school back on the morning of April 14, placing it on lock-down from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to search for illegal narcotics.
It goes on to describe how the department proceeded to conduct unjustified and highly intrusive pat-downs of the school’s nearly 900 students, despite having a so-called “target list” of 13 students, only three of whom were actually present that day. It also outlines how no drugs were actually discovered.
While the case is still in its infancy — the Sheriff’s Department has yet to file a response — legal experts are already asking whether it could make its way to the Supreme Court of the United States given the emergence of certain threats and the increasing presence of law enforcement on school grounds.
Furthermore, they indicate that one critical question that will need to be answered going forward is whether the large-scale search was sanctioned by school administrators.
Stay tuned for updates on this important case …
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can fight to protect your child’s rights if he or she has been suspended or expelled under questionable circumstances.