Court upholds right of schools to check students' lockers

State laws override policy of schools, it says

February 19, 2000|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The state's highest court has upheld state laws that allow searches of students' lockers when no student is suspected of wrongdoing.

Yesterday's ruling, similar to rulings in other states, notes that lockers are school property that may be searched if officials believe that any locker contains something that is illegal, is forbidden by school policy or threatens safety.

In a 6-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals judges said state laws override a Montgomery County public schools policy that authorizes a locker search only when there is probable cause to believe that a student's locker contains illegal items.

The case arose from a 1997 locker search at Mark Twain School in Rockville, a Montgomery County school for emotionally troubled students. A school guard, searching lockers after receiving a tip that drugs or weapons were present, found a pager and knife in a student's locker.

The juvenile was sent to a residential facility, and the parents challenged the decision in the Court of Special Appeals and then in the Court of Appeals.

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