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School Violence and Weapons: Metal Detectors in Schools

Metal detectors have been installed in schools around the country as a means of decreasing the number of weapons being brought to school. A metal detector is a type of mass search which has been challenged as a violation of Fourth Amendment privileges. The courts in several states, such as Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee, have held that metal detectors are not violating Fourth Amendment rights and are held to the same legal standards as metal detectors in other facilities, such as airports.* Metal detectors in schools are, therefore, considered administrative searches and may provide reasonable suspicion for further individualized searches. Some states have also noted that there is a need to violate privacy to some degree in order for the safety of the greater group. California has stipulated that a written policy detailing policies and the use of metal detectors be given to students and should be based on information about the dangers of students' weapons at school.

*Important Notice and Disclaimer: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) on metal detectors in schools that you are researching.

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