The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right of everyone “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This means that if the government (and government institutions like public schools) wants to search your belongings, or take them away from you, they must have a good reason to do so and they must follow the proper procedure.

As with other Constitutional rights, NYRA believes this right applies to everyone equally regardless of age. However, many court cases have allowed schools to conduct searches that would be illegal if students were not involved. And because there is very little protection of students’ rights, school authorities have conducted egregious violations of the privacy, dignity and rights of young people, such as searching an entire class when an item goes missing, conducting a strip-search for insignificant amounts of money, threatening students with suspension if they didn’t turn over the passwords to their phones, and groping students. We believe that all students retain their Fourth Amendment rights in and out of school.