Given the school’s custodial and tutelary responsibility for children and the Board’s intent to preserve a safe environment for all students and staff, the Board recognizes that school officials must have the authority to conduct reasonable searches of students and student property. School officials engaging in searches of students and property shall abide by the following guidelines.
I. General Guidelines
1. Any search conducted in accordance with this policy shall be carried out by the principal or a person designated by the principal.
2. Searches of a student’s person, personal property (coats, hats, backpacks, book bags, purses, wallets, notebooks, bags, etc) or vehicle may be conducted whenever school officials have reasonable suspicion to believe a student is concealing evidence of a policy violation or criminal activity and the items being searched are capable of concealing such evidence.
3. The search must be reasonably related to the suspicion and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction. Circumstances warranting a search include those in which school officials have reasonable suspicion the student or student property is concealing weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, unsafe contraband or lost/stolen/ misplaced items.
4. All contraband discovered in a search by school officials shall be immediately confiscated and turned over to law enforcement officers if school officials have reason to believe the contraband is related to the commission of a criminal act. Any other items found in the search that provide evidence of a policy infraction or that appear to be harmful to the student or others will be confiscated and appropriate action will be taken by the school principal or the principal’s designee.
II. Searches of Student Lockers, Desks, and Other Storage Areas
Students have no right or expectation of privacy of school property such as desks, or other storage areas. Lockers, desks, and school storage areas are the sole property of the school and may be searched at any time by school officials with or without cause. Once an area is opened for search, any search of student belongings contained within the area must comply with the general guidelines of this policy.
III. Searches of Student Property and Student Vehicles
The student may be asked to open personal belongings and vehicles and to turn over personal property for search by a school official. Whenever practical, searches of student property by school officials shall be witnessed by an objective third party.
IV. Searches of Person
School officials shall make sure the search meets the following guidelines:
1. The search shall be conducted in a private area of the school by a school official.
2. The search shall be observed by an objective third party(i.e., administrator, teacher, police officer).
3. School officials may ask the student to remove his/her outer clothing, (hat, coat, gloves, shoes and socks, etc.) turn pockets inside out, and roll up sleeves to see if the student is hiding contraband.
4. Under no circumstances may school officials require students to remove any other items of clothing or touch students in any way during the search.
5. If this limited search does not turn up suspected contraband and school officials have reasonable suspicion the student is concealing contraband in his/her inner clothing (i.e. hiding drugs, weapons or other contraband underneath shirts, pants or underwear), law enforcement officers shall be summoned immediately to conduct further search and investigation.
V. Canine Searches
The school principal, in conjunction with law enforcement officials, may determine when, and if, a specially trained detection canine shall be used in the school to search for drugs, weapons, or other contraband. In creating a proper and effective learning environment within the framework of mutual respect and trust, a school principal should use caution and discretion in determining when to use a drug detecting canine in the school. No detection canine shall be used in the school for searches without the permission of the principal.
The following procedures shall be followed:
Students. Sniffing of students by detection canines is considered to be a search under the Fourth Amendment, may be embarrassing or frightening, and shall not be permitted in schools.
Lockers and Vehicles. The sniffing of school lockers or a student’s vehicle on school property by detection canines does not constitute a search under the Fouth Ammendment. Sniffing by detection canines of school lockers and vehicles in school parking lots may be permitted. A positive alert by a detection canine may be considered reasonable grounds for a school official to conduct a search of the locker or vehicle as outlined in this policy.
VI. Documentation of Searches
School officials shall document the details of any search conducted of a student’s property. Documentation shall be made at the time of the search, or as soon as possible thereafter, and shall include the following:
1. the time, place and date of the search;
2. the reasonable suspicion giving rise to the search (What did school officials suspect to find during the search);
3. the name and title of individuals conducting and observing the search.
4. a statement about evidence that was found or not found as a result of the search;
5. a statement about who took possession of contraband (i.e., police, school, etc.);
6. information regarding the notification of parents, or the attempts of school officials to notify parents, about the search.