MO: School search merely for tardiness was unreasonable

School search of a student for merely being tardy was unreasonable under Vernonia and Earls and other cases for lack any factual basis, let alone reasonable suspicion. State v. Williams, 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 659 (June 27, 2017):

Vashon’s policy of searching tardy students did not meet the reasonableness standards articulated in Vernonia and Earls. Williams’s reasonable expectation of privacy exceeds that of the students in Vernonia and Earls because Vashon’s policy applied to the general student body, and was not limited to students who voluntarily participated in an extracurricular activity. Further, the character of the intrusion here was decisively greater than in Vernonia and Earls, and slightly greater than in Doe, because Williams was hand searched, immediately handed over to law enforcement and charged with a felony. While we acknowledge and support the school’s legitimate interest in preventing drugs in schools, the concern expressed in this case is no different than the generalized interest in keeping drugs out of school found in Doe. While a generalized interest might justify a minimally invasive search, given the record before us, we conclude that Vashon’s generalized interest was not sufficiently compelling to justify the significant intrusion on Williams’s reasonable and legitimate expectation of privacy. See Doe, 380 F.3d at 356-57. We therefore hold that the search was unreasonable and thus unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.

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