Post details: CA8: Drug dog scan of belongings left in school room not Fourth Amendment violation

03/05/13

Permalink 08:02:31 am, by fourth, 414 words, 1215 views   English (US)
Categories: General

CA8: Drug dog scan of belongings left in school room not Fourth Amendment violation

Requiring students to leave their belongings in a room for a drug dog to scan them did not violate the student’s Fourth Amendment rights under T.L.O. and Acton. The court distinguishes Doe v. Little Rock Sch. Dist., 380 F.3d 349 (8th Cir. 2004), holding physical searches of belongings left in a room violated Fourth Amendment. Burlison v. Springfield Pub. Schs, 708 F.3d 1034 (8th Cir. 2013):

[More:]

Assuming that C.M.'s belongings were seized in this case when the school police officer directed that they be left in the classroom for approximately five minutes while the drug dog survey occurred, we conclude that the seizure was part of a reasonable procedure to maintain the safety and security of students at the school. See T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 339. Since C.M. is a high school student, he has a "lesser expectation of privacy" than the general public. Acton, 515 U.S. at 657 (citation omitted). He was only separated from his belongings for a short period of time while the deputy sheriff safely and efficiently completed the drug dog walkabout.

Requiring students to be separated from their property during such a reasonable procedure avoids potential embarrassment to students, ensures that students are not targeted by dogs, and decreases the possibility of dangerous interactions between dogs and children. See Horton v. Goose Creek Indep. Sch. Dist., 690 F.2d 470, 479 (5th Cir. 1982).

C.M.'s freedoms were not unreasonably curtailed by his brief separation from his possessions because he normally would not have been able to access or move his backpack during class time without permission. In Little Rock, 380 F.3d at 351, we concluded that a school's search policy was unconstitutional where it required all students to leave their belongings in a classroom and allowed school personnel to search each student's property. We noted that a drug dog procedure like the one completed in C.M.'s school in April 2010 would not raise the same type of constitutional issues. Id. at 355. That is because such a drug dog survey is "minimally intrusive, and provide[s] an effective means for adducing the requisite degree of individualized suspicion to conduct further, more intrusive searches." Id. The drug dog procedure at C.M.'s school was the type of minimally intrusive activity which we referenced in Little Rock. C.M. was separated from his backpack only for a short period of time and school personnel were only to search a student's belongings if a drug dog alerted twice on the same property.

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