Student Privacy and Searches
Searches of Students and Their Property
A student is subject to search by district staff if reasonable grounds exist to suspect that evidence of a violation of the law or school rules will be uncovered. School staff shall report a student's suspicious activity to the principal prior to initiating a search, except in emergency situations. A search is required when there are reasonable grounds to suspect a student has a firearm or other dangerous weapon as defined by law on school grounds, transportation or at school events.
Establishing Reasonable Grounds
The following review of the basis for the search should occur before conducting a 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 suspicion could be confirmed, would such conduct be a violation of the law or school rules?
C. Is the student likely to possess or have concealed any item, material, or substance which is itself prohibited or which would be evidence of a violation of the law or a school rule?
Conducting the Search
If the principal, or his or her designee, determines that reasonable grounds exist to search a student's clothing, personal effects, desk, locker, assigned storage area, electronic devices or automobile, the search shall be conducted as follows:
D. If evidence of criminal activity is suspected to be present, and prosecution by civil authorities will be recommended if confirmed by the search, consult law enforcement officials regarding the appropriateness of a search by a law enforcement officer.
E. If evidence of violation of a school rule is suspected, and if confirmed by the search will be handled solely as a student discipline action, proceed to search by asking the student to remove all items from pockets, purses, handbags, backpacks, gym bags, etc.
F. If the student refuses to cooperate in a personal search, the student should be held until the student's parent or guardian is available to consent to the search. If a parent or guardian cannot be reached in a reasonable time, the principal may conduct the search without the student's consent.
Lockers, desks, and storage areas are the property of the school district. When assigned a locker, desk, or storage area, a student shall be responsible for its proper care. A student may be subject to a fine for any willful damage to school property. Students are encouraged to keep their assigned lockers closed and locked.
A student's locker desk or storage area may be searched by district staff if reasonable grounds exist to suspect that evidence of a violation of the law or school rules will be uncovered. School staff shall report a student's suspicious activity to the principal prior to initiating a search, except in emergency situations when the risk of harm to students or staff demands immediate action.
Building principals should refer to these procedures for conducting searches of students and their property for guidance in establishing whether a search is reasonable under the circumstances.
Principals may search 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 and free from potential health or safety hazards. Periodic inspections of lockers 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.
Electronic Devices including Cell Phones
G. Students shall not use telecommunication devices in a manner that poses a threat to academic integrity, disrupts the learning environment or violates the privacy rights of others.
H. Students shall not send, share, view or possess pictures, text messages, emails or other material that is considered sexually explicit, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, promoting illegal activity or gang related in electronic or any other form on a cell phone or other electronic device, while the student is on school grounds, at school sponsored events or on school buses or vehicles provided by the district.
I. When a school official has reasonable suspicion, that a student is using a telecommunications device in a manner that violates the law or school rules, the official may confiscate the device, which shall only be returned to the student’s parent or legal guardian.
J. By bringing a cell phone or other electronic devices to school or school-sponsored events, the student and their parent/guardian consent to the search of the device when school officials have a reasonable suspicion, that such a search will reveal a violation of the law or school rules. Content or images that violate state or federal laws will be referred to law enforcement.
Adopted: April 11, 2011