XVI. Student Searches and Interrogations

Student Searches and Interrogations

The Board of Education is committed to ensuring an atmosphere on school property and at school functions that is safe and orderly.  To achieve this kind of environment, any school official authorized to impose a disciplinary penalty on a student may question a student about an alleged violation of law or the district code of conduct.  Students are not entitled to any sort of “Miranda”-type warning before being questioned by school official, nor are school officials required to contact a student’s parent before questioning the student.  However, school officials will tell all students why they are being questioned.

In addition, the board authorizes the superintendent, building principal, and school nurse to conduct searches of students and their belongings if the authorized school official has reasonable suspicion to believe that the search will result in evidence that the student violated the law or the District Code of Conduct.

An authorized school official may conduct a search of a student’s belongings, locker, or gym locker, so long as the school official has a legitimate reason for the search.

An authorized school official may search a student or the student’s belongings based upon information received from reliable informant.  Individuals, other than the district employees, will be considered reliable informants if they have previously supplied information that was accurate and verified, or they make an admission against their own interest, or they provide the same information that is received independently from other sources, or they appear to be credible and the information they are communicating relates to an immediate threat to safety.  District employees will be considered reliable informants unless they are known to have previously supplied information that they knew was not accurate.

Before searching a student or the student’s belongings, the authorized school official should attempt to get the student to admit that he or she possesses physical evidence that they violated the law or the district code, or get the student to voluntarily consent to the search.  Searches will be limited to the extent necessary to locate the evidence sought.

Whenever practicable, searches will be conducted in the privacy of administrative offices and students will be present when their possessions are being searched.

   A.  Student Lockers, Desks and other School Storage Places

The rules of this code of conduct regarding searches of students and their belongings do not apply to student lockers, desks and other school storage places.  Student desks, lockers, textbooks, computers, and other materials, supplies or storage spaces loaned by the school to the student remain the property of the school, and may be opened and inspected by school employees at any time.  Students have no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to school property; and school officials retain complete control over such property.  This means that student desks, lockers, textbooks, computers, and other materials, supplies or storage spaces may be subject to search and/seizure of contraband/prohibited items at any time by school officials, without prior notice to students and without their consent. 

   B.  Strip Searches

A strip search is a search that requires a student to remove any or all of his or her clothing, other than an outer coat or jacket.  Strip searches are intrusive in nature and are not permissible.  If school authorities believe there is an emergency situation that could threaten the safety of others, the student shall, to the extent practicable, be isolated and secured.  Police and parents will be contacted immediately.

   C. Documentation of Searches

The authorized school official conducting the search shall be responsible for promptly recording the following information about each search:

1.   Name, age and grade of student searched. 

2.    Reasons for the search. 

3.    Name of any informant(s).

4.   Purpose of search (that is, what item(s) were being sought).

5.   Type and scope of search.

6.   Person conducting search and his or her title and position.

7.   Witnesses, if any, to the search.

8.   Time and location of search.

9.   Results of search (that is, what item(s) were found).

10.  Disposition of items found.

11.  Time, manner and results of parental notification.

The building principal or the principal’s designee shall be responsible for the custody, control and disposition of any illegal or dangerous item taken from a student.  The principal or his or her designee shall clearly label each item taken from the student and retain control of the item(s), until the item is turned over to the police.  The principal or his or her designee shall be responsible for personally delivering dangerous or illegal items to police authorities.

   D. Police Involvement in Searches and Interrogations of Students

District officials are committed to cooperating with police officials and other law enforcement authorities to maintain a safe school environment.  Police officials, however, have limited authority to interview or search students in schools or at school functions, or to use school facilities in connection with police work.  Police officials may enter school property or a school function to question or search a student or to conduct a formal investigation involving a student only if they have:

1.   A search or arrest warrant; or

2.   Probable cause to believe a crime has been committed on school property or at a school function; or

3.   Been invited by school officials.

Before police officials are permitted to question or search any student, the building principal or his or her designee shall first try to notify the student’s parent to give the parent the opportunity to be present during the police questioning or search.  If the student’s parent cannot be contacted prior to the police questioning or search, the questioning or search shall not be conducted.  The principal or designee will also be present during any police questioning or search of a student on school property or at a school function.

Students who are questioned by police officials on school property or at a school function will be afforded the same rights they have outside the school.  This means:

1.  They must be informed of their legal rights.

2.  They may remain silent if they so desire.

3.  They may request the presence of an attorney.

   E.  Child Protective Services Investigation

Consistent with the district’s commitment to keep students safe from harm and the obligation of school officials to report to child protective services when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a student has been abused or maltreated, the district will cooperate with local child protective services workers who wish to conduct interviews of students on school property relating to allegations of suspected child abuse, and/or neglect, or custody investigations.

All requests by child protective services to interview a student on school property shall be made directly to the building principal or his or her designee.  The principal or his or her designee shall set the time and place of the interview.  The principal or designee shall be present during the interview.  If the nature of the allegations is such that it may be necessary for the student to remove any of his or her clothing in order for the child protective services worker to verify the allegations, the school nurse or other district medical personnel must be present during that portion of the interview.

A child protective services worker may not remove a student from school property without a court order, unless the worker reasonably believes that the student would be subject to danger of abuse if he or she were not removed from school before a court order can reasonably be obtained.  If the worker believes the student would be subject to danger of abuse, the worker may remove the student without a court order and without the parent’s consent.