Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Gerald C. Kops

Number of Pages



When students in public schools are searched or seized by school officials for any reason, it can sometimes be a violation of the their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Two United States Supreme Court decisions---New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985), and Vernonia v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995), have addressed student searches. T.L.O. dealt with the search of a student's purse after she was caught breaking a school rule, smoking in the bathroom. Vernonia established ground rules for dealing with drug-testing policies in the school environment. In both cases the Supreme Court supported the authority of the school. The United States Supreme Court has recognized that public schools are unique environments and cannot operate effectively using the same standards as other government entities. T.L.O., the earliest of the two and heavily quoted from, spoke to the issue of what guidelines need to be followed when conducting a search of a student. Vernonia, has provided schools and school districts with guidance with respect to drug-testing policies. Courts have not been consistent with their rulings when dealing with drug-testing policies. This has resulted in rulings that often raise more questions than are answered. One case recently accepted by the United States Supreme Court for review, Earls v. Tecumseh School District, 242 F. 3d 1264, also deals with a drug-testing policy in a public school. School officials are hopeful that the decision the Supreme Court renders in that case will clarify any current misconceptions and lead to more consistent rulings. This study has targeted student search and seizure. In reviewing case law dealing with this topic, the study reports how the various federal courts have interpreted the T.L.O. landmark case over the past 17 years. The study investigates possible patterns in the court's rulings that provide guidance for today's school administrators. This study can be used as a guide for future policy making with respect to searches and seizures of students in public schools.


Drug Testing; Drug Testing New Jersey Vs. T.L.O.; New Jersey Vs. T.L.O. Search; Search And Seizure; Seizure; Since; Students; Veronia V. Acton

Controlled Subject

School management and organization; Law

File Format


File Size

7352.32 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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