Schoolhouse Beat

Off-campus search of student's car ruled improper in Nebraska

The Nebraska Supreme Court, ruling on a case at Millard West High School in Omaha, has decided that school officials lack the authority to search a student’s vehicle if it is parked off school property. The Omaha World-Herald says the 5-1 ruling was the first time the state’s high court has weighed in on the issue of students’ off-campus rights when it comes to searches and seizures versus a school’s need to provide a safe and secure campus. The majority opinion says when it comes to off-campus searches, schools should turn those matters over to law enforcement agencies trained in proper searches. The case involved a student who was caught leaving school without permission in 2010. An assistant principal questioned the student and a conducted a search in his office. Nothing improper was found, but the administrator, without the student's consent, decided to search the student’s truck, which was parked across the street. Two drug pipes and rolling papers were found, and the student was suspended for 19 days. A lower court overturned the suspension, and the Millard district appealed to the state supreme court.

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