Do schools have the right to search students’ lockers?

[deleted account] ( 11 moms have responded )

This is a debate about privacy, and the extent to which the state can invade the private life of its citizens. Although it may seem unimportant, the school locker is usually the only private space available to a student in the communal environment of the school, and so it focuses many of the issues involved in privacy debates.
This is usually thought of as an American issue, but it could apply in any country and the arguments could also be transferred from school lockers to desks and lockers in the adult workplace. The rights to privacy claimed in this debate find expression in two key documents: Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." 4th Amendment to the US Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." In the USA this became an issue at the highest level with the 1980 Supreme Court case, New Jersey v T.L.O. The law differs from state to state as to whether reasonable suspicion is required before an individual student’s locker can be searched, or whether blanket/random searches can be carried out.


Emma - posted on 04/04/2010




Hell yes !!
Your locker is lent to you by the school, where you are aloud to store books, and other things that you don't want to lug around in your bag all day.
You should not be putting anything in there that you would not happily show a teacher in the first place.

The best they would of found in my locker when i was at school would of been gym cloths and most likely an old sandwich,

You really have to be a dumb ass to put something dodgy in your locker at school and if you have you deserve to get caught,
Most company's that supply lockers or even desk draws reserve the right to search those places as they belong to said company, they also read your email as you sent it off a work computer on company time using the company internet connection.
Its just a fact of life
So keep you dodgy shit at home where the police are required to get a search warrant to search.

Lady - posted on 04/03/2010




We paid £15 for my son's locker for the whole time he's in that school (I think we get it back when he leaves) but I would have no problem with them serching it if they think there is something in it that shouldn't be - I very much believe if you've nothing to hide then what's the problem - I don't have a problem with ID cards or CCTV cameras either. Whether my son would be bothered about it I don't know, I'd only be worried about them getting knocked out by the smell of the PE kit I keep asking him to bring home to get washed!!

Tracey - posted on 04/03/2010




as far as i remember the locker is on school property and the school has all rights to search that locker even a persons backpack or purse if they suspect there is something that should not be there. if you are under a certain age you are the responsibility of the school. that is why they have the attendance policy and they call to verify why you were not there. as a parent getting ready to send my daughter to kindergarten the school is responsible for her and is they wanted to search her things if they think something is up then they can. its no just your safety that they are insuring but also the safety of all the others in the school.

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Sierra - posted on 12/21/2011




Hello. I am writing a paper for college regarding locker searches. I am required to have interviews. So if any of you would not mind, could you answer these questions, and e-mail them to me at Thanks!

What is your name?

What date is it that you are filling this out?

Are you a teacher, student, parent, or other? (If other, please be specific)

What do you think about locker searches?

Do you agree with the use of drug sniffing dogs being used on school grounds? Why or why not?

Do you believe that if a dog gives his handler a positive signal for the scent of a drug in a locker, that it is or is not violating a students rights? Why or why not?

Do you agree or disagree with the statement that lockers a school property and therefor are acceptable for searches, even the random ones?

Does the safety of the majority of the kids at school mean more than the privacy of one?

Have you had any encounters with locker searches or drug-sniffing dogs that you would like to share? What?

Any other information that you would like to share.

*By filling this out, you are permitting me to quote you in my paper*

Lyndsay - posted on 04/09/2010




In my opinion, the locker is not the property of the student and therefore the student cannot expect fully exclusive use of it. A locker is a place for them to store their books, bags, coats, whatever throughout the semester or school year. If students have something that they don't want to be seen, don't even bother bringing it to school. Or, they can leave it in their backpacks.

Kristin - posted on 04/09/2010




A school locker is not personal property. It belongs to the school. There is no expectation of privacy at the same level as in the home or personal car or even luggage. A student should not bring something that would require that much privacy to a school, public or private.

As a parent, I reserve the right to go through my children's stuff at home as well. I want to trust them, but it must be earned. And ultimately, it is my job to protect them and even from themselves if necessary.

At this time, there is so much violence occuring over stupid, stupid stuff that the adults need to intervene. Locker searches turn up knives, guns, drugs, porn, and a variety of other items totally inappropriate to an educational environment. Parent's may not know that their kids have this stuff without the searches. While it is not the school's job to police our children, many of them have adults who are so busy with work and life in general that things slip through the cracks.

I guess I believe that they have the right to search in whatever manner they see fit to ensure the safety of all of the students. I would rather a few students experience embarassment over stupid decisions than even 1 end up dead by any means.

Heather - posted on 04/03/2010




Yes, I agree with everyone on this...the schools should be able to search whenever they want.

Erin - posted on 04/03/2010




Yes they should be able to search the locker anytime. It is the school's property, not the student's.

LaCi - posted on 04/03/2010




In my school the only time a locker was searched is if the drug dog pointed a certain locker out.

However, the locker is not the property of the student. Nothing incriminating should ever be left in a locker, and if it is that kid is moron and deserves to get busted.

Rosie - posted on 04/03/2010




i think they definitely have the right to search lockers whenever they please, reason or not. they are on school property it's not their personal property that's being violated at all. if they rented the locker for a monthly fee, then a different story.

C. - posted on 04/03/2010




If the school has any sort of suspicion about the student, then yes they have a right to search the locker b/c it is their duty to keep every single one of those students at the school safe and if something in someone's locker is deemed hazardous or dangerous, then I am sure that the rest of the people would be happy that their lives weren't in danger. If the school does not have any suspicions about the student, then no, b/c there isn't any reason to go snooping. So yes and no, just depends on the situation.

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