Search Supreme Court Cases

DOE v. RENFROW - 451 U.S. 1022 (1981)

U.S. Supreme Court

DOE v. RENFROW , 451 U.S. 1022 (1981)

451 U.S. 1022

Diane DOE, etc.
Omer RENFROW, individually and as Superintendent of Highland Community School Corporation, et al
No. 80-1306

Supreme Court of the United States

May 26, 1981

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice BRENNAN, dissenting.

I dissent from the denial of the petition for certiorari. I would grant the petition and summarily reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals insofar as it affirmed the judgment of the District Court. I cannot agree that the Fourth Amendment authorizes local school and police officials to detain every junior and senior high school student present in a town's public schools and then, using drug-detecting, police-trained German shepherds, to conduct a warrantless, student-by-student dragnet inspection "to see if there were any drugs present." While school officials acting in loco parentis may take reasonable steps to maintain a safe and healthful educational environment, their actions must nonetheless be consistent with the Fourth Amendment. The problem of drug abuse in the schools is not to be solved by conducting schoolhouse raids on unsuspecting students absent particularized information regarding drug users or suppliers.


Petitioner Diane Doe is a 13-year-old student at Highland Junior High School in Highland, Ind., a community of approximately 30,000 residents. Highland has one junior high school and one senior high school, located in adjacent buildings. There are 2,780 students enrolled in those schools.

On the morning of March 23, 1979, petitioner went to her first-period class as usual. Shortly before 9:15, when the class was scheduled to adjourn, petitioner's teacher ordered

Page 451 U.S. 1022 , 1023

everyone to remain seated until further notice. An assistant principal, accompanied by a police-trained German shepherd, a dog handler, and a uniformed police officer, then entered the classroom as one of six teams conducting simultaneous raids at the Highland schools. For the next 21/2 hours, petitioner and her classmates were required to sit quietly in their seats with their belongings in view and their hands upon their desks. They were forbidden to use the washroom unless accompanied by an escort. Uniformed police officers and school administrators were stationed in the halls. Guards were posted at the schoolhouse doors. While no student was allowed to leave the schoolhouse, representatives of the press and other news media, on invitation of the school authorities, were permitted to enter the classrooms to observe the proceedings.

The dogs were led up and down each aisle of the classroom, from desk to desk, and from student to student. Each student was probed, sniffed, and inspected by at least 1 of the 14 German shepherds detailed to the school. When the search team assigned to petitioner's classroom reached petitioner, the police dog pressed forward, sniffed at her body, and repeatedly pushed its nose and muzzle into her legs. The uniformed officer then ordered petitioner to stand and empty her pockets, apparently because the dog "alerted" to the presence of drugs. However, no drugs were found. After petitioner emptied her pockets, the dog again sniffed her body and again it apparently "alerted." Petitioner was then escorted to the nurse's office for a more thorough physical inspection.

Petitioner was met at the nurse's office by two adult women, one a uniformed police officer. After denying that she had ever used marihuana, petitioner was ordered to strip. She did so, removing her clothing in the presence of the two women. The women then looked over petitioner's body, inspected her clothing, and touched and examined the hair on [451 U.S. 1022 , 1024]

Full Text of Opinion

Powered by Justia US Supreme Court Center: DOE v. RENFROW - 451 U.S. 1022 (1981)

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.