Betsy Crumbliss
Briana Collier
Case 3
Cornfield by Lewis v. Consolidated High School: Case
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Argued November 12, 1992
Decided April 23, 1993
Background: Brian Cornfield, a minor at Carl Sandburg High School, was in enrolled in the behavioral disorder program. A teacher’s aide found Cornfield violating school rules outside of a building and also noticed his crotch “was well-endowed.” The teacher’s aide reported her findings to Cornfield’s teacher, Spencer, and also reported to the dean, Frye. One of Cornfield’s other teacher also noticed a bulge but did not take action. The following day, Frye and Spencer took Cornfield aside as he was getting on the bus. They both suspected he was “crotching” drugs. Spencer and Frye took Cornfield into Frye’s office and interrogated him, but Cornfield became uptight and started yelling obscenities. Frye and Spencer called Cornfield’s mother in order to ask consent for a search and she denied their request. Spencer and Frye took the initiative and conducted a strip search behind a locked door after his mother had told them not to.

Cornfield denied any incidents involving drugs upon questioning. Upon him doing so, he is successfully arguing that it would be unreasonable to form a suspicion about him. The court’s opinion shows that Spencer and Frye did not violate Cornfield’s rights. Their opinion is this because Spencer and Frye were under the impression that Cornfield had not successfully completed his drug rehab program.

Impact on Teaching: This case is important to educators because it demonstrates that as long as you have reasonable suspicion to search a student it is not in violation of the student’s rights. It is also important to educators because it reiterates that teachers need to inform the administration on what is going on and let administration administer the search. Also, never perform a search without being in the presence of another teacher or administrator.

Applicable Quiz Question:
When is it ok to perform a search on a student? As long as you have reasonable suspicion that the search will provide evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or school rules.