Do School Officials Need a Warrant to Search a Student ?
In New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 334, 105 S. Ct. 733, 738, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720 (1984) the Supreme Court noted that a student has a legitimate expectation of privacy both in his person and in the personal possessions he carries. T.L.O., 469 U. S. at 336-40, 105 S. Ct. at 740-42, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720.
School officials, when carrying out searches and other disciplinary functions in furtherance of school policies, cannot claim a parent's immunity from the restrictions of the fourth amendment. T.L.O., 469 U. S. at 336-37, 105 S. Ct. at 740, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720.
However, because the school has a legitimate need to maintain an environment conducive to learning, the Court recognized that a school setting requires some "easing of the restrictions to which searches by public authorities are ordinarily subject." T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 340, 105 S. Ct. at 742, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720.
Therefore, the Court held that school officials do not need a warrant before searching a student and the legality of such a search is based upon reasonableness, rather than probable cause. T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 341-42, 105 S. Ct. at 742-43, 83 L. Ed. 2d 720.