Cops in the Classroom: Assessing the Appropriateness of Search and Seizure Case Law in Schools

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During the 1999-2000 school year, more than one million serious disciplinary actions were taken against students, involving about 54 percent of public schools in the United States. A majority (83 percent) of the disciplinary actions were suspensions of five days or more; 11 percent were expulsions from school; and 7 percent were transfers to specialized schools. About 20 percent of schools took disciplinary actions for possession of drugs or alcohol in school; 4 percent for possession of a firearm and 19 percent for weapons other than firearms; 35 percent for fights, 22 percent for threats, and 18 percent for insubordination.1 Lack of discipline and control ranked just behind lack of financial support in a national survey that asked respondents what were the biggest problems facing public schools; use of drugs, fighting, violence, and gangs were also listed among the top five problems.2 Some believe that school discipline problems such as these are the result of an overemphasis on students' rights.3

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