". . . The warrant requirement, in particular, is unsuited to the school environment . . .  [T]he legality of a search of a student should depend simply on the reasonableness, under all the circumstances, of the search . . . Such a search will be permissible in its scope when the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction. "

Justice Byron White, speaking for the majority

This case explores the legal concept of search and seizure.

A New Jersey high school student was accused of violating school rules by smoking in the restroom, leading an assistant principal to search her purse for cigarettes. The vice principal discovered marijuana and other items that implicated the student in dealing marijuana which was illegal. The student tried to have the evidence from her purse suppressed because the search was a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. She contended that the mere possession of cigarettes was not a violation of school rules; therefore, a desire for evidence of smoking in the restroom did not justify the search. The Supreme Court decided that the search did not violate the Constitution and established more lenient standards for reasonableness in school searches.



This section is for teachers.

Use the links below to access:

  • student versions of the activities in .PDF and Word formats
  • how to differentiate and adapt the materials
  • how to scaffold the activities
  • how to extend the activities
  • technology suggestions
  • answers to select activities  

About the Case


Learning Activities

The Case

After the Case


Teacher Resources

Teaching Strategies Used

Landmark Cases Glossary

The LandmarkCases.org glossary compiles all of the important vocab terms from case materials. It is provided as a view-only Google Sheet.

Glossary

Planning Time and Activities

If you have one day . . .

  • Complete Setting the Stage: Bell-Ringer Activity
  • Read the background summary (•••, ••, •) and answer the questions.
  • Complete the Classifying Arguments Activity. Discuss which arguments the students find most convincing.
  • For homework, have students read the Key Excerpts from the Majority Opinion, Key Excerpts from the Concurring Opinion, and Key Excerpts from the Dissenting Opinions and answer the questions. Follow-up the next day by reviewing the questions with students.

If you have two days . . .

  • Do the activities for the first day (excluding homework).
  • On the second day, complete Unmarked Opinions Activity
  • Complete You Decide: Is this a Legal School Search?
  • For homework, have students read the Key Excerpts from the Majority Opinion, Key Excerpts from the Concurring Opinion, and Key Excerpts from the Dissenting Opinions and answer the questions. Follow-up the next day by reviewing the questions with students.

If you have three days . . .

Note to teachers: We recommend that you invite a community resource person, such as a judge or lawyer, to assist in the activities described here for day three.

  • Complete the activities for the first and second days, including homework.
  • On the third day, complete Mini-Moot Court Activity: Safford v. Redding (2009)
  • For homework, have students complete Applying Precedents Activity: Pottawatomie v. Earls (2002)

If you have four days . . .

Note to teachers: We recommend that you invite a community resource person, such as a school administrator, police officer, judge, or lawyer, to assist in the activities described here for day four. Many of the scenarios are tricky and the answers can depend upon the nuances of state law.

  • Complete all of the activities for the first three days.
  • On the fourth day, complete School Searches and Cellphones: Compare and Contrast
  • Complete School Cell Phone Search Policy PSA

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