A student was arrested and charged with delinquent conduct for possession of a controlled substance on school property. The student requested that the evidence be thrown out, arguing that the search that led to the discovery of the controlled substance was illegal. The trial court denied that motion and the student appealed to the court of appeals.
The facts that led to the discovery were as follows: a student was suspended for possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance at school. The student told an assistant principal that she got the controlled substance from another student, whom she identified. The assistant principal passed this information on to the principal.
Based on this tip, the principal and a different assistant principal decided to search the student who was suspected of providing the drugs. They made contact with the student, who appeared to them to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. The student denied being in possession of drugs, whereupon the principal proceeded with the search. In the student's backpack, they found "three small green squares" in a plastic bag and "three or four rectangular pieces of medicine," which the principal recognized as Xanax. School officials then contacted the school district police department and an officer arrived to search the student for weapons. As the principal explained what would happen next, the student became frustrated and produced two additional bags of Xanax from his waistband, stating, "Here, you missed these." The student was arrested.
The student argued to the court of appeals that the search was illegal because the principal did not have reasonable grounds to search him. He claimed that the student who provided the tip to school officials was not reliable and did not make the report directly to the principal or assistant principal who conducted the search.
The court of appeals noted that in order to be legal, a search of a student must be reasonable. In this case, the assistant principal and principal testified that the reporting student identified the student who was the source of controlled substances on campus. School officials collectively knew the identity of the reporting student, so all school officials knew who the report came from even if the report was made to a different individual. Additionally, the school officials who conducted the search noted that the student appeared to be intoxicated when they initially approached him. When considered under the totality of the circumstances, the court of appeals concluded that the search was reasonable and that the drugs that were found could be admitted into evidence.