Court Limits Student Searches at Albuquerque Public Schools

Published: July 27, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-A recent ruling by the New Mexico Court of Appeals states students cannot be searched just because a school official has a suspicion they have done something illegal.

The ruling upheld a district court decision that two Rio Grande High School campus security aides didn’t have a reasonable notion to search a student who was ‘acting a little nervous’ when approached. The student was found in possession of a weapon and drug paraphernalia. The ruling grants the student’s request to suppress evidence in his juvenile case.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has said school officials must have a good reason to suspect students have violated the law or school rule before searching them, the campus lawyer felt the security aides’ concerns were legitimate.

However, according to an Albuquerque Public Schools spokesman, the APS police officers and campus security aides will be briefed on the decision in order to better define reasonable suspicion.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico says the decision does ‘clarify the rights that students have against unwarranted, unjustifiable searches by school administrators.’

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