5145.12 – Students – Search and Seizure

Policy – x
Regulation –
Exhibit –

Adopted – 02/08/2018
Revised – 10/25/2018

The Governing Board is fully committed to promoting a safe learning environment and, to the extent possible, eliminating the possession and use of weapons, illegal drugs, and other controlled substances by students on school premises and at school activities. As necessary to protect the health and welfare of students and staff, school officials may search students, their property, and/or district property under their control and may seize illegal, unsafe, or otherwise prohibited items.

(cf. 0450 – Comprehensive Safety Plan)
(cf. 3515 – Campus Security)
(cf. 3515.3 – District Police/Security Department)
(cf. 5131 – Conduct)
(cf. 5131.7 – Weapons and Dangerous Instruments)
(cf. 5144.1 – Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process)

The Board urges that employees exercise discretion and good judgment. When conducting a search or seizure, employees shall act in accordance with law, Board policy, and administrative regulation.

(cf. 0410 – Nondiscrimination in District Programs and Activities)
(cf. 1312.1 – Complaints Concerning District Employees)
(cf. 5145.3 – Nondiscrimination/Harassment)

The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that staff who conduct student searches receive training regarding the requirements of the district’s policy and administrative regulation and other legal issues, as appropriate.

(cf. 4131 – Staff Development)
(cf. 4231 – Staff Development)
(cf. 4331- Staff Development)

Individual Searches

School officials may search any individual student, his/her property, or district property under his/her control when there is a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that he/she is violating the law, Board policy, administrative regulation, or other rules of the district or the school. Reasonable suspicion shall be based on specific and objective facts that the search will produce evidence related to the alleged violation. The types of student property that may be searched by school officials include, but are not limited to, lockers, desks, purses, backpacks, and student vehicles parked on district property.

Cellular phones or other electronic communication devices may be searched with consent from the student or in any other manner consistent with the procedures and instructions in Administrative Regulation 5145.12 – Search and Seizure, and Penal Code section 1546.1.

Any search of a student, his/her property, or district property under his/her control shall be limited in scope and designed to produce evidence related to the alleged violation. Factors to be considered by school officials when determining the scope of the search shall include the danger to the health or safety of students or staff, such as the possession of weapons, drugs, or other dangerous instruments, and whether the item(s) to be searched by school officials is/are reasonably related to the contraband to be found. In addition, school officials shall consider the intrusiveness of the search in light of the student’s age, gender, and the nature of the alleged violation.

Employees shall not conduct strip searches or body cavity searches of any student. (Education Code 49050)

Searches of individual students shall be conducted in the presence of at least two district employees.

The principal or designee shall notify the parent/guardian of a student subjected to an individualized search as soon as possible after the search.

(cf. 5145.11 – Questioning and Apprehension by Law Enforcement)

Searches of Multiple Student Lockers/Desks

All student lockers and desks are the property of the district. The principal or designee may conduct a general inspection of school properties that are within the control of students, such as lockers and desks, on a regular, announced basis, with students standing by their assigned lockers or desks. Any items contained in a locker or desk shall be considered to be the property of the student to whom the locker or desk was assigned, and not of the District, for purposes of further searches, if any.

Use of Metal Detectors

The Board believes the presence of weapons in the schools threatens the district’s ability to provide the safe and orderly learning environment to which district students and staff are entitled. The Board also believes that metal detector searches offer a reasonable means to keep weapons out of the schools and mitigate the fears of students and staff.

The Superintendent or designee shall use metal detectors at district schools as necessary to help provide a safe learning environment. He/she shall establish a plan to ensure that metal detector searches are conducted in a uniform and consistent manner.

Use of Contraband Detection Dogs

In an effort to keep the schools free of dangerous contraband, the district may use specially trained, nonaggressive dogs to sniff out and alert staff to the presence of substances prohibited by law or Board policy.

The dogs may sniff the air around lockers, desks, or vehicles on district property or at district-sponsored events. Dogs shall not sniff within the close proximity of students or other persons and may not sniff any personal items on those persons without their consent.

Legal Reference:

32280-32289 School safety plans
35160 Authority of governing boards
35160.1 Broad authority of school districts
48900-48927 Suspension and expulsion
49050-49051 Searches by school employees
49330-49335 Injurious objects

626.9 Firearms
626.10 Dirks, daggers, knives or razors
1546.1 Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Article I, Section 28(f) Right to Safe Schools

Safford Unified Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. Redding, (2009) 557 U.S. 364
B.C. v. Plumas, (9th Cir. 1999) 192 F.3d 1260
Jennings v. Joshua Independent School District, (5th Cir. 1989) 877 F.2d 313
O’Connor v. Ortega, (1987) 480 U.S. 709
New Jersey v. T.L.O., (1985) 469 U.S. 325
Horton v. Goose Creek Independent School District, (5th Cir. 1982) 690 F.2d 470
Zamora v. Pomeroy, (10th Cir. 1981) 639 F.2d 662

83 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 257 (2001)
75 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 155 (1992)

Management Resources:

The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools: A Guide for Schools and Law Enforcement Agencies, 1999

CSBA: http://www.csba.org
California Attorney General’s Office: http://caag.state.ca.us
California Department of Education, Safe Schools: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss
National Institute of Justice: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij

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