The Toolbox is a full day training program our firm offers, designed to help educators serve students who present challenging behaviors. The idea is to serve each student appropriately, legally and safely. But sometimes situations call for swift, emergency action. That’s what happened in a district in Pennsylvania that ended up in federal court defending the actions of its SRO.
The court held that the SRO’s attempted pat down search of the student with autism was not unreasonable and did not violate the 4th Amendment. Nor was it unreasonable for the officer to tackle the student when the student attempted to flee the office. The school officials and officer had reasonable, individualized suspicion that the student had a knife and intended to use it. The student’s autism did not change the legal analysis. Key Quote:
The Court further rejects Salyer’s argument that his autism rendered the search unreasonable. Salyer failed to cite a single case to support his contention that an individual’s mental illness alters the reasonableness inquiry into whether a search of that individual violates the 4th Amendment, and the Court is not aware of any such authority.
Notice that the court’s analysis here is limited to the constitutional issues. Other issues could be presented. Did this action conform with state laws pertaining to the use of force? Was there anything in the student’s IEP that might be relevant?
That’s the kind of thing we address in the Toolbox training. If you would like to know more, send me an email and we can talk.
This case is Salyer v. Hollidaysburg Area School District, decided by the federal court for the Westerm District of Pennsylvania. We found it at 72 IDELR 182.
DAWG BONE: ANY DAY WHEN YOU HAVE TO TACKLE A STUDENT IS NOT A GOOD DAY.
Tomorrow: what does “reasonable” mean?