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Ohio Officials Can Search Student Bags for School Safety, Court Rules

The Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling stems from the unwarranted search of book bags at Whetstone High School.

Ohio school officials can search student bags without a warrant after a state Supreme Court ruling May 11.

Justifying the ruling, the court determined that student privacy rights are necessarily diminished on school grounds because officials have a duty to keep them safe.

The court also considered school shootings at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School and Virginia Tech University during deliberations, reports the Dayton Daily News.

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The ruling stems from a case where a Whetstone High School official searched student Joshua Polk’s unattended backpack on a school bus in 2013 and found bullets.

School Safety Coordinator Robert Lindsey, a school police officer and the school’s principal then confronted Polk in a hallway to search his other bag and found a gun.

Polk was charged with a weapons violation, but the 10th District Court of Appeals found that the search of his bag was unconstitutional.

The Franklin County prosecutor had appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Court officials also noted that the search of an unattended bag in order to identify an owner and make sure the contents aren’t dangerous doesn’t constitute an unreasonable search and seizure.

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