Can a school search a child’s coat pockets inside their locker using the excuse that they were looking for a missing yearbook?

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Can a school search a child’s coat pockets inside their locker using the excuse that they were looking for a missing yearbook?

The principle said they searched lockers for a missing yearbook from my son’s class. He said they were going through lockers and when they got to my son’s they found a firecracker in his coat, so they suspended him. Mom not sure if a missing yearbook is reason enough to search a locker and why they would search a coat placket for one is beyond me? A yearbook cannot possibly fit in a coat pocket?

Asked on January 27, 2012 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Under every state's education code as well as other laws, a minor who is attending a school has no justifiable expection of privacy with respect to his or her locker with respect to school personnel. Meaning, school personnel can for whatever reason search every locker at a given school without giving a reason.

The child does not own the locker at a school. The school district does. Given this distinction, the child has no expectation of privacy as to what is in his or her locker.


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