In the Matter of D.L.D., 203 N.C. App. 434 (2010)


The search of a student by an outside LEO was reasonable under New Jersey v. T.L.O. where the LEO and the Principal witnessed suspicious activity on a school surveillance camera and investigated the incident together in an effort to maintain a safe and educational environment. With regard to searches by a LEO at school, North Carolina has adopted the T.L.O. reasonableness standard, which applies when a school official initiates the search or law enforcement involvement is minimal – i.e., the officer acts in conjunction with a school official, or an SRO conducts the search based on his own investigation or at the direction of a school official, in furtherance of well-established education and safety goals. The traditional probable cause requirement applies when the search is conducted (i) by outside LEO’s as part of an independent investigation or (ii) by school officials, at the request or behest of outside LEO’s. In this case, the LEO was acting in conjunction with and at the direction of a school administrator to maintain a safe and educational environment at the school, so the reasonableness standard applied. The search was “justified at its inception” because there was reasonable cause to suspect that it would reveal illegal substances. The search was not unnecessarily intrusive in light of the juvenile’s age and gender and the nature of the offense.

Motions to Suppress
Search and Seizure
School Searches
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