Investigations and Searches:
Given the school's custodial responsibility for children, school officials have the authority to conduct investigations and to question students pertaining to infractions of school rules.
They may also conduct reasonable searches of students and student property such as coats, hats, backpacks, book bags, purses, wallets, notebooks, etc. The search must be reasonably related to the suspicion and not excessively intrusive in light of the student’s age, history and school record and the nature of the infraction. The scope of any search should be limited by the reasonable suspicion that motivated the search. If an item is found that leads to reasonable suspicion that additional, related items may also exist, the search may be extended.
Lockers, desks, other storage areas provided for student use students have no right or expectation of privacy. While lockers, desks, and other storage areas are under the joint control of students and the school, they are solely school property and may be searched at any time by school officials with or without cause. Once a locker, desk or other storage area is opened for search, any search of student belongings contained within the locker must comply with the guidelines for searches of personal belongings above.
School officials have no obligation to contact parents before detaining and questioning students. It is good practice when a student is questioned about serious allegations of the student's own misbehavior that a parent should be notified to protect the interest and well-being of the student.
School officials shall thoroughly document the details of any search conducted of a student's property or person.
Documentation shall be made at the time of the search, or as soon as possible thereafter, and shall include the following:
- the time, place and date of the search;
- information received that established the need for the search and the name of the informant, if any;
- the name and title of individuals conducting and observing the search;
- substances or objects found and the disposition made of them (police, school, etc.); and
- subsequent action taken including parental notification.