N.J. high court redefines school search standard

In a case that has been closely watched by high school administrators, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that two high school students were victims of unreasonable search and seizure.

The court said a search may be conducted when a school official has reasonable grounds to believe a student has evidence of illegal activity or activity that would interfere with school discipline. The standard that guides a school official is less stringent than that which applies to law-enforcement officials, the court said.

The 5-to-2 ruling came in two cases that were consolidated: One high school student was charged with delinquency when a search of her purse turned up paraphernalia sometimes used with marijuana. Another student was sentenced to state prison after illegal drugs were found by school officials who searched his locker after they received an anonymous tip.

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