Betsy Crumbliss
Ambie Watson
Chynna Seymour
Case 4
Thompson v. Carthage School District
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Argued January 11, 1996
Decided June 28, 1996

On the morning of October 26, 1993, a school bus driver notified the principal of Carthage High School, Norman Bartel, that she had found cuts that seemed to be made that morning on her school bus seat. Bartel decided to conduct a search should be conducted on all males in grades six to twelve. When they searched Ramone Lea, school officials found a used box of matches, a match box, and a cigarette package in Lea’s coat pocket. When officials opened the match box, they found crack cocaine.


Suit was filed that it was against the Fourth Amendment to search Lea and suspend him for having the used box of matches, match box, cigarette package, and cocaine. The courts found that the search was in fact constitutionally reasonable. Thus, stating that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to school disciplinary hearings.

Impact on Teaching:

This court case provides educators with the knowledge that it is not against the Fourth Amendment to search students with any sort of a reasonable cause. A reasonable cause can be practically anything, including the cuts that were found on this school bus seat. If we suspect something that could endanger any of our students, or anyone else for that matter, we should definitely report it.

Applicable Quiz Question:

A search can be performed on students and/or their belongings in school with any reasonable cause.
True or False