Below is the abstract for “In Loco Parentis and the Fourth Amendment Rights of Minors in Public Schools,” available for download on SSRN.

When originally understood, the Constitution does not contemplate any grant of Fourth Amendment protections to minor children. Furthermore, in the case of public education and under the doctrine of in loco parentis, minor children also lack those Fourth Amendment protections duly afforded to adults. I contend, here, that to achieve and maintain proper discipline as well as the safety of all schoolchildren, a probable cause standard to Fourth Amendment violations is sufficiently lacking in constitutional tethering. I further argue the safety of students naturally relies on the discretion and the immediacy of action on the part of school officials. Thus, when originally applied and historically understood, the doctrine of in loco parentis forestalls any Fourth Amendment protections for minor children in public schools. Accordingly, I undertake to explain that the foundational case on point, New Jersey v. T.L.O., misinterprets the Fourth Amendment. Further still, I argue that the exception created in the T.L.O is devoid of utility against the doctrine of in loco parentis.


F. Lee Francis

Mississippi College School of Law

F. Lee Francis is an Assistant Professor at MC Law, where he teaches Civil Procedure and Administrative Law. Before joining the faculty in 2023, Professor served in the Army JAG Corps as a federal prosecutor with the US Attorney’s Office, legal advisor, and administrative law attorney. His research and scholarship interests focus on Second Amendment and firearms law.


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