The Demographics of Justice: Student Searches, Student Rights, and Administrator Practices Academic Article uri icon


  • This study employs a mixed methodology consisting of legal research, policy analysis, and quantitative research to study the impact of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, N.J. v. T.L.O. and Vernonia v. Acton on students' rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Researchers studied 173 lower court cases following the U.S. Supreme Court rulings and found, among other things, that most decisions were in state and criminal courts; 79% favored school districts rather than students; a standard of reasonable suspicion was used in 62% of all searches; 75% of the students searched were males and 75% were between the ages of 14 and 17; and strip searches occurred most frequently in poorer communities. The courts have granted considerable discretion to school officials in searching students, a fact that has strong implications for students' rights.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Stefkovich, J. A., & Torres, M. S.

citation count

  • 11

publication date

  • April 2003