The following was included in TCTA's 2017-18 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2017 but is subject to change. The information below is for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute for advice from an attorney.

Student searches

Public school students are entitled to be free of unreasonable searches pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, although the standard for initiating a student search by school officials is less stringent than the probable cause requirement applicable to searches by law enforcement officials. School officials may search students if there is reasonable suspicion of finding evidence of wrongdoing. The scope of the search must be reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not be excessively intrusive in light of the student’s age and sex and the nature of the infraction.

The U.S. Supreme Court approved the search of a student’s purse when the student was caught smoking and there was reasonable suspicion that the student’s purse contained cigarettes. In a 2009 opinion, the Supreme Court held that a search that required a female student to strip to her underwear and pull the garment away from her body to look for prescription strength ibuprofen was not reasonable. Due to the potential for civil rights liability, only trained administrators should conduct searches.

See also Confidentiality of Student Records