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Woodard 1 Searching for the truth The US Supreme Court and state courts have very gently both bestowed and limited Fourth Amendment rights upon public school students in a series of cases over several decades Recent cases may indicate that the delicate balance between student rights and school safety procedures is strongly leaning towards the rights of school authorities to actively isolate and reduce perceived causes of school violence Starting in 1968 and culminating in 1984 the law of the land concerning the status of students compared to school authorities shifted to a more constitutional basis Prior to that time student rights in school were defined by the common law doctrine of in loco parentis which for centuries posited that school officials were given the right duty and responsibility to act in the place of a parent Their right to act included the power to search students for illegal items or for items merely considered to be prohibited under state or local law or school district policies without the warrant or probable cause conditions mandated for all other citizens under the Fourth Amendment State laws as upheld by their state courts permitted such school action when for example student searches were deemed to be in the best educational interests of all the students Any search based upon the much lower and non-constitutional standard of right problem was found to be in accord with the doctrine of in loco parentis it was accepted by the courts as necessary and reasonable in light of public necessity to maintain school discipline and order and the longstanding social concept of the parental powers of school authorities The searching of students produces a sense of security and safety in schools Student locker searches provides security for all students Most legal authorities state that the validity of locker searches is dependent on the students reasonable expectations of privacy Woodard 2 which can be affected by school policies appointing the lockers
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