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8270 R1 - Procedures for Locker Searches/Student Searches



Personal privacy is a fundamental aspect of individual liberty. All students possess the constitutional right to be secure in their persons, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Staff shall take particular care to respect students' privacy.

School officials have authority to maintain order and discipline in the schools and to protect students from exposure to illegal drugs, weapons, and contraband. The superintendent, the principal and other staff designated by the superintendent shall have the authority to conduct reasonable searches on school property as provided by board policy.

General Searches
Administrators may make general searches of all lockers, desks, or storage areas without prior notice given to students and without reasonable suspicion that the search will yield evidence of any particular student's violation of the law or school rules.

Administrative inspections, or health and welfare inspections, may be conducted at any time for the purpose of locating misplaced library books, textbooks, or other school property or to ensure that all lockers, desks, or storage areas are being kept clean. Periodic inspections of lockers are recommended and will reinforce the district's ownership of lockers and the minimal expectation of privacy students have in the contents of their lockers.

During a search of all student lockers, if the school official conducting the search discovers any container within the locker which may conceal contraband, the container may be searched according to district procedures governing searches of students and their property. A "container" for the purpose of this policy may include, but is not limited to: an article of clothing, a handbag, purse, backpack, gym bag, or any other item in which contraband material may be concealed.

Narcotic detection dogs may be used to sniff unattended objects such as lockers, desks, storage areas, cars or other school areas when students are not present. The following guidelines are recommendations for a school participating in a dog-sniffing program:

1. Determine which objects or areas are to be included in random checks.

2. Notify parents and students in writing prior to the implementation of the policy or annually at the beginning of the year in student handbooks. Be clear and precise as to the items and areas subject to search.

3. Include notice in school bulletin periodically throughout the year.

Searches of Students and Their Property
Care must be exercised before searching an individual student and his/her property. Any search of a student conducted by a school district employee must be reasonably related to the discovery of contraband or other evidence of a student's violation of the law or school rules. For the purpose of this policy, "contraband" means items, materials, or substances the possession of which is prohibited by law or district policy, including but not limited to controlled substances, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, or any object that can reasonably be considered a firearm or dangerous weapon.

1. Establishing Reasonable Grounds

The following review of the basis for the search should occur before conducting a personal search:

A. Identify 1) the student's suspicious conduct, behavior or activity; 2) the source of the information; and 3) the reliability of the source of such information.

B. If suspicions could be confirmed, would such conduct be a violation of the law or school rules?

C. Based on A and B, is there reasonable suspicion that the student may possess or have concealed any items, materials, or substance which is prohibited or which would be evidence of a violation of the law or a school rule?

School staff shall report a student's suspicious activity to the building administrator prior to initiating a search, except in emergency situations when the risk of harm to students or staff demands immediate action.

2. Conducting a Personal Search

A. Contact School Resource Officer, if available, to assist with the search.

B. At least two school employees (or campus officer) should be present during any student search.

C. Same gender searches are recommended.

D. If the police are involved in the search, they should make the determination of when and how to contact the parents.

E. Ask the student to remove all items from pockets, purses, handbags, etc., for inspection.

F. Conduct the search in a manner that is not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of his suspected infraction.

G. No student shall be subject to a strip search or body cavity search by school staff. A strip search is the removal or arrangement of clothing that permits and inspection of private body areas or undergarments.

H. The student may be asked to remove outer garments such as coats, shoes and hats and gloves for inspection.

I. A student may be asked to lift pant legs, shake pants, tuck shirt in, turn pockets inside-out or participate in other ways of inspection that are non-invasive and do not involve contact by the adult.

J. If the person conducting the search determines that the student may also be guilty of a criminal offense, he/she should immediately contact law enforcement officials.

K. An adult conducting a search should take care not to touch unknown substances that could be toxic. Wearing gloves may be advised in conducting a search.

L. If a student refuses to cooperate in a personal search, the student should be detained until a parent or law enforcement officer is available to authorize and assist in the search. If the parent is not available within a reasonable time, school officials may proceed to search the student, the student's personal belongings, vehicle, locker, etc. according to these procedures.

M. A student's desk, locker, storage areas or vehicle on campus may be searched when reasonable suspicion exists that they contain contraband or other material that violates a school rule or the law.

3. Other

A. When confiscating student items, the adult taking the item into possession should prepare a written statement indicating who found the item, when and where it was turned over to school authorities and/or the police and where and how the article has been stored or secured. This chain of events should be given to police if a report is filed.

B. If illegal substances or articles are confiscated and charges are not filed, the items should be turned over to the police as found property.

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