WCBE

SUPCO Upholds Police Search Of Whetstone Student's Backpack

May 12, 2017

Whetstone High School
Credit whetstonehs.ccsoh.us

The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the search of a Columbus high school student's backpack that prosecutors say led first to the discovery of bullets and later a gun.

Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.


In 2013, officials at Columbus’ Whetstone High School found a gun in 18 year old Joshua Polk’s backpack. They were led to Polk after first finding bullets and an item that had Polk’s name on it in another bookbag left on a school bus. Polk’s lawyer had sought to have the search of that first bag thrown out. But Franklin County assistant prosecutor Seth Gilbert told the justices last month it was perfectly legal.

 

“Schools have a heightened interest to maintain safety. Students have a reduced expectation of privacy. It doesn’t matter what the subjective motives are.”

 

Justice Sharon Kennedy wrote for the unanimous court that a compelling interest in protecting students makes Whetstone’s unwritten policy to search all unattended bags reasonable.