SPS says the ruling on Monday in the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Doug and Mellony Burlison against the district, Dr. Norm Ridder, Dr. Ron Snodgrass and Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.
The original dismissal came in January 2012, when the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri made the order.
The lawsuit alleged that the school district's use of drug-detection dogs in its school buildings to sniff student possessions constituted an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Appeals Court further found that the school district's use of drug detection dogs was "minimally intrusive, and provided an effective means for adducing the requisite degree of individualized suspicion to conduct further, more intrusive searches" if needed.
SPS legal counsel Ransom Ellis said
the Court complimented the district's policies and procedures governing the use
of drug-detection dogs in its schools and the methods used during the drug dog
A civil lawsuit claiming a student's constitutional rights had been violated during a drug search has been dismissed.
The Springfield R-12 School District says the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri issued the Order last Thursday (January 25).
The suit was filed by Doug
and Mellony Burlison. The couple alleged their children's constitutional rights
had been violated as a result of the use of drug detection dogs in
The order states "that the written policies and procedures of the Greene County Sheriff and the Springfield Public Schools involved in this case appear to be reasonable and not in any way a deprivation of a federal right."
"SPS will recoup some of that cost by immediately filing a request for reimbursement of costs of litigation," says SPS in a statement.
More from SPS:
The lawsuit also named
Superintendent Norm Ridder,
The court granted summary judgment
on all counts in favor of all defendants --
"The court's decision affirms that Springfield Public Schools' policies concerning the use of drug detection dogs in its schools are constitutional," stated Ransom Ellis, III, SPS legal counsel. "This makes it clear that a canine sniff of student possessions in a school setting does not violate a student's Fourth Amendment rights."
"Although this lawsuit affirms that the District's actions were appropriate and constitutional, defending this unnecessary lawsuit has come at a great cost to the taxpayers of our school district," said Tom Prater, school board president.
Following is a summary of key findings of the court:
Dismissed claims against Ridder and Snodgrass in their individual capacities, finding that there was "no credible evidence that Defendants Ridder and Snodgrass were directly involved in the alleged constitutional violation, that Defendants Ridder and Snodgrass were present in C.M.'s classroom at the time of the alleged violation, and no evidence that either of them failed to properly supervise their subordinates involved in the alleged actions."
Dismissed claims against Sheriff Arnott in his individual capacity, finding that "there is nothing unconstitutional about the canine sniff as stated above and there was no reason for Defendant Arnott to believe or even suspect that his deputies would violate the established policies."
Found that the district procedure governing the use of drug detection dogs in district buildings was "reasonable and not in any way a deprivation of a federal right."
Found that requiring students to
move from their classrooms to another location and leave their possessions
(bags, backpacks, purses, etc.) in the classroom did not constitute an unlawful
seizure of the students or their possessions.
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