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Student Searches - September 2002 Revision

Note: This procedural directive was reviewed and revised in November 2010. We provide this revision for historic purposes only. Please refer to the current procedural directive.

To ensure the safety of the school population, school personnel may conduct searches of students.  The district acknowledges both state and federal constitutional rights which are applicable to personal searches of students, searches of their possessions (e.g., pocket contents, backpacks, handbags, etc.) and vehicle searches.  School officials need only have individualized reasonable suspicion that a particular search will reveal evidence that a crime or breach of the disciplinary code is being committed by the student or that a safety or security issue may exist.  Individualized reasonable suspicion is established when the observation of specific and describable behavior or information from a credible informant leads one to reasonably believe that a particular student is engaging in or has engaged in prohibited conduct.  The reasonableness of the search will depend upon:

  1. The value and reliability of information used as justification for the search;
  2. The prevalence and seriousness of the problem to which the search is directed;
  3. The urgency requiring an immediate search.

Even if individualized reasonable suspicion exists, the scope of the search must be such that the measures used are reasonably related to the purpose of the search and not excessively intrusive.

Types of Searches

Vehicle Searches - Search of a student's vehicle while parked on school property may be conducted only if a certified school employee, school security officer, campus security aide or school bus driver has reasonable suspicion that a crime or breach of the disciplinary code is being committed by the student.

Physical Searches - Search of a student's person or property may be conducted only where there is individualized reasonable suspicion that the student being searched has committed a crime or a breach of the disciplinary code.  Searches may be conducted by a certified school employee, school security officer, or campus security aide.

  1. Minimally Intrusive Searches - Searches such as emptying of pockets, searches of student backpacks and purses, removal of hats, socks and shoes may be conducted by any certified school employee, school security officer, campus security aide, or school bus driver.
  2. More Intrusive Searches - Searches such as pat downs and frisks may only be conducted by an authorized person of the same sex as the student being searched.
  3. Most Intrusive Searches - A strip search shall be conducted only upon individualized reasonable suspicion of a safety concern and shall be conducted by a school administrator of the same sex as the student and in the presence of another authorized person of the same sex.

Strip searches of students shall be conducted only in life-threatening situations or in situations that pose a possible danger to the school population.  Administrators should only conduct more intrusive or most intrusive searches when they have reason to believe that a student may be in possession of a firearm, a weapon, or a dangerous drug.

Administrators who conduct a student strip search will report the search to their Cluster Leader Principal.  The Cluster Leader Principal will, at least monthly, report the number of most intrusive searches to their Assistant Superintendent.

Student desks, school lockers, storage spaces and school computers are not the private property of a student but the property of the school district and may be opened and subject to inspection without student consent.

Cross Ref.:

NSBA/NEPN Classification: JIH

Draft: September 2002

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