Lewis R. Katz


Each year in America an unknown number of children in primary and secondary schools are strip searched by teachers and/or school administrators, forced to remove pants and shirts down to their underwear and sometimes forced to expose their breasts and genitals. In Safford Unified School District No. 1 v. Redding, 129 S.Ct. 2633 (29), the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue, finding that school officials violated the child’s Fourth Amendment rights during a strip search but reversing the Ninth Circuit and awarding the school officials qualified immunity not withstanding the ineptitude of the investigation. The Court purported to apply Fourth Amendment rules enunciated a quarter century ago in New Jersey v. T.L.O. However, T.L.O. was hardly opaque and neither is the Court’s decision in Redding. The Court resolved little, including the most basic issue involving definition of a strip search occurs, except to recognize that a strip search by school officials is an extraordinary intrusion on basic rights and should be reserved for those cases when the object sought threatens the life or health of children. This article defines strip searches, recognizing that the definition differs for boys and girls and proposes a basic rule that school strip searches are unreasonable absent a clearly defined school policy and set of procedures.


Primary School, Secondary School, Strip Search, New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985), Safford Unified School District No. 1 v. Redding, 129 S.Ct. 2633 (29), Constitutional Law, Fourth Amendment, Immunity, Reasonable Suspicion

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Case Western Reserve Law Review

Publication Information

60 Case Western Reserve Law Review 363 (2009)


COinS Lewis R. Katz Faculty Bio