SHABBONA – Lane Rissman rips Amanda Kimpflin’s backpack out of her hands suspecting she might have something Indian Creek High School rules prohibit.
Rissman hands the bag to fellow high school senior Garrison Govig, who riffles through it until he finds the suspected contraband.
“I didn’t do anything,” yells Kimpflin, who is also a senior at Indian Creek.
Kimpflin in fact didn’t do anything. The search and seizure was part of a skit the students performed during a presentation on the judicial system.
DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert brought the courtroom to the classroom for Indian Creek High School seniors Thursday, teaching them about their Fourth Amendment rights.
Through the “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom” program, members of the Illinois Judges Association are bringing new life to the high school civics classes. Stuckert is among 115 judges trained to deliver the program, which contains an overview of the three branches of government, federal and state courts and a skit based on an actual U.S. Supreme Court case.
“We want to engage students and show them how important the law is,” Stuckert said. “I think it can be really beneficial.”
The students acted out New Jersey v. T.L.O, a case involving a 14-year-old female student caught smoking in the school bathroom. The principal searched the student’s purse and found marijuana, paraphernalia and money, leading to drug-dealing charges against the girl.
In the actual case, the student believed the search violated her Fourth Amendment rights. Many of the Indian Creek seniors sided with the student, portrayed by Kimpflin.
“If I were her, I would have felt they were invading my privacy,” Kimpflin said.
After Stuckert explained why the U.S. Supreme Court found the search didn’t violate the student’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure, the Indian Creek seniors agreed.
The court held that the school setting gave school administrators the right to search the student because they had reasonable suspicion to believe she was carrying an illicit substance. The needs of the school setting outweighed the rights of the student, the court held in a 6 to 3 decision.
“We want to protect all the students here at school,” Stuckert explained.
Students returned to class after the presentation, many of them said with a deeper appreciation of the U.S. Constitution.
“We leanred more about our rights as students,” Rissman said. “If we were in the same situation, we would understand it better.”