Under Illinois State Law, students should have no reasonable expectation of privacy in:
- Parking lots
- Other school property or equipment owned or controlled by the school
- Their personal effects in any of the areas above
As such, school authorities are permitted to search and inspect those and similar places without prior notice or consent of students, and without a search warrant. Law enforcement officials and specially trained dogs may assist in the searches and inspections of these areas for illegal drugs, weapons, or other illegal or dangerous materials or substances if the school requests it.
Outside of the situations mentioned above, the Illinois Supreme Court has held that teachers or other school officials may search students when they have a reasonable suspicion of past or future violation of the law or school rules. These searches must be done in a way reasonably related to their objectives. The law doesn’t allow school officials to conduct excessively intrusive searches, but this depends on the age and sex of the student as well as the nature of the infraction they are investigating. Courts apply facts on a case-by-case basis to determine whether strip-searches are reasonable.
To do a strip-search of a student, the school usually needs suspicion that a student has committed a specific crime or violation, that the contraband is superstitiously concealed on their person, and that the smuggling presents a clear danger (e.g., weapons).
If a search produces evidence that a student has or is violating a law or school policy, the evidence may be retained, the school may take disciplinary action, and such evidence may be submitted to law enforcement authorities.
Updated: March 2018