How can we help?

Home > Revision Assistant > Prompt Library > Expansion Pack Library > Fourth Amendment Rights

Fourth Amendment Rights

Grades 9-10 | Argumentative | Source-Based

Source Lexile®: 910L-1110L

Learning Standards




Prompt: Today you will read four sources about the Fourth Amendment and Supreme Court Cases about student privacy. The sources are:

  • A Fourth Amendment description
  • New Jersey v. TLO
  • Vernonia School District v. Acton
  • Safford Unified School District v. Redding


Write an argumentative essay in which you agree or disagree with the way in which the Supreme Court has interpreted student Fourth Amendment rights. Use evidence from historical and legal documents, including the amendment and court case briefs to support your ideas.




Source 1

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution


The Constitution, through the Fourth Amendment, protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The Fourth Amendment, however, is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law. Whether a particular type of search is considered reasonable in the eyes of the law is determined by balancing two important interests. On one side of the scale is the intrusion on an individual's Fourth Amendment rights. On the other side of the scale are legitimate government interests, such as public safety.




Source 2

New Jersey v. T.L.O., 1985


Description: A female student was searched at school, and the evidence collected was used by the state in her delinquency trial in juvenile court. T.L.O. are the initials of the 14-year old girl who was caught smoking in the bathroom at school. Later, in the assistant vice principal's office, she denied smoking. The assistant vice principal demanded her purse, and found a pack of cigarettes, rolling papers, marijuana, a pipe, plastic bags, a large amount of money, and a list of students who owed her money. The evidence was used by the New Jersey Juvenile Court to find her guilty of delinquency.


Decision: Students do have 4th Amendment rights at school, but they are balanced with the school's responsibility to maintain a safe and educational environment. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the New Jersey Supreme Court, holding that school officials can search a student if they have reasonable suspicion. School officials do not need to have probable cause or obtain a search warrant. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than the probable cause required for police searches of the public at large.




Source 3

Vernonia School District v. Acton, 1995


Description: A school district adopted a policy authorizing random drug testing of student athletes. There was a known drug problem in the school district. Student athletes were among the drug users and dealers. Along with the drug problem came serious student behavior issues. By 1989, disciplinary actions had reached 'epic proportions,' motivating the district to introduce the Student Athlete Drug Policy. James Acton, a 7th grader, refused the testing, and his parents refused to consent to the testing. Because of this, he was not allowed to participate in football. He sued the school district for violating his rights.


Decision: The drug testing policy is reasonable and does not violate the 4th Amendment rights of the students. Students do have rights at school, but those rights must be balanced with the school's responsibility to provide a safe environment.




Source 4

Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 2009


Description: Savana Redding was a 13-year-old student. A male student reported that another girl, Marissa Glines, had given him a prescription-strength ibuprofen pill. A search of Marissa's day planner and pockets revealed more of the pills and some weapons. Marissa then reported the day planner belonged to Savana, and that Savana had given her the pills. Savana was then searched – a search which included not only her backpack and pockets, but also inside her undergarments.  She sued the school district for violating her rights. 


Decision: The strip search by school officials in this case was not legal. It was unreasonable considering the nature of the offense and the facts of the case. 








Last modified


This page has no custom tags.


(not set)