4000 - Students

4342 Student Searches

A. AUTHORITY TO CONDUCT SEARCHES AND SEIZURES

School administrators have the authority to conduct reasonable searches and seize materials in accordance with this policy for the purpose of maintaining a safe, orderly environment and for upholding standards of conduct established by the board or school. This policy does not apply to investigations conducted by law enforcement officials or to investigations conducted exclusively for the purpose of criminal prosecution. Any school official carrying out a search or seizure is expected to be knowledgeable about the constitutional rights of students and the appropriate procedures for conducting the search or seizure.

A search of a student is lawful if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating a law or a school rule. A search of a student is permissible in scope when measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction. Reasonable suspicion is not required if a student freely, voluntarily and knowingly consents and agrees to the search of his or her person or personal effects.

If a proper search yields illegal or contraband materials, such findings shall be turned over to proper legal authorities for ultimate disposition.

A student’s failure to permit reasonable searches and seizures as provided in this policy will be considered a violation of the expected standard of behavior, and appropriate consequences may be imposed.

B. PERSONAL SEARCHES

A student’s person and/or personal effects (e.g., purse, book bag, etc.) may be searched whenever a school authority has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating a law or a school rule.

If a frisk or “pat down” search of a student’s person is conducted, it must be conducted in private by a school official of the same gender and with an adult witness present, when feasible.

If the school official has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the student has on his or her person an item imminently dangerous to the student or to others, a more intrusive search of the student’s person may be conducted. Such a search may be conducted only in private by a school official of the same gender, with an adult witness of the same gender present, and only upon the prior approval of the assistant superintendent or one of his or her superiors, unless the health or safety of students will be endangered by the delay that might be caused by following these procedures.

C. USE OF METAL DETECTORS

A metal detector may be used to search a student’s person and/or personal effects whenever a school official has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the student is in possession of a weapon. The search must be conducted by a school official. The search will be conducted in private, when feasible.

A school official is authorized to conduct general searches of students and other persons and their personal effects with a metal detector before the person may gain entry to the school campus or any school-sponsored extracurricular activity. The search must be conducted in accordance with procedures established by the superintendent or designee. Prior to conducting general searches, school administrators must: (1) demonstrate to the superintendent the need for general searches based upon a pattern or expectation of violence or disruption; and (2) provide written notice, if feasible, to students and parents of the school policy governing general searches, but not of specific times when or places where searches will be conducted. Any search conducted pursuant to this policy must be conducted by a school official.

D. DESK AND LOCKER SEARCHES

Student desks and lockers are school property and remain at all times under the control of the school. However, students are expected to assume full responsibility for the security of their desks and lockers. Student desks and lockers may not be used to store illegal, unauthorized or contraband materials. Inspections of desks and lockers may be conducted by school authorities for any reason consistent with board policies or school rules at any time, without notice, without consent, and without a search warrant. A student’s personal effects found in a desk or locker, such as backpacks, gym bags or purses, may be searched only pursuant to guidelines for personal searches described above.

E. SEARCHES OF STUDENT MOTOR VEHICLES

Students are permitted to park on school premises as a matter of privilege, not of right. School officials have authority to inspect the exteriors of student automobiles on school property and to patrol student parking lots at all times to maintain safety in the parking lots. The interior of a student’s motor vehicle parked on the school premises may be searched if a school official has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating a law or a school rule.

F. USE OF TRAINED DOGS IN CONDUCTING SEARCHES

With the prior approval of the superintendent, school officials may use trained dogs in inspections for illegal materials in school facilities, on school grounds and in school parking lots. All dogs must be accompanied by a qualified and authorized trainer who is responsible for the dog’s actions and who is able to verify the dog’s reliability and accuracy in sniffing out illegal material. Trained dogs may sniff lockers, student motor vehicles and other inanimate objects. Such inspections are not considered searches and do not require notice or consent.

Dogs may not be used for random searches of students or other persons. If a school official has reasonable suspicion that a student possesses illegal material on his or her person, a dog may sniff the air near the student. Such a search will be conducted in private with the school official and an adult witness present, when feasible.
 

Legal References:
U.S. Const. amend. IV; G.S. 115C-47, -288, -307, -391
Cross References:
School Plan for Management of Student Behavior (policy 4302), School-Level Investigations (policy 4340)
Adopted:
Monday, 13 June 2011
Last Updated: