Can a School Search my Child or her Belongings without my Permission?

Schulranzen-aus-leder-und-felltornisterI often get calls from parents whose children are in some sort of serious disciplinary trouble with their schools. Often these calls are made to me after the child has already given a statement to the school and maybe, in some circumstances, even been searched by the school. Parents are often very upset that this has occurred without their even knowing about it and without their being present. It’s important for parents to understand that schools have certain rights that are akin to parental rights. When a child walks into the school building or onto the school property, they lose some of the rights that the child would have on the street.
For example, the police department is not entitled to drag your child in for questioning and/or to search your child without your presence and your knowledge. We’re talking about a minor child; somebody under 18. However, a school, can do that. They can question and they can even decide to impose discipline before they even notify the parent that the child is in trouble. As far as searching the child, so long as the school has reasonable suspicion that the child might be carrying contraband of some sort, such as drugs or weapons, they then can and will search your child before even notifying you that there’s an issue.
Therefore, it’s important when parents are in the circumstance for the parent not to focus so much on the process, but on the merits of what it is their child is being charged with and what kind of discipline the school is likely to impose. There are methods to oppose those, and appeal those, and lessen the consequences for the child, and a parent facing that circumstance should contact an attorney who knows how to handle that process.
The law firm of Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C., is composed of experienced education attorneys throughout the states of New Jersey and Delaware. Please contact the office for a free initial consultation and get any questions answered regarding your specific case.