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543 Policy: Search of Student Lockers, Desks, Personal Possessions, Student's Person, Motor Vehicles and All Other Locations

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543 Policy: Search of Student Lockers, Desks, Personal Possessions, Student's Person, Motor Vehicles and All Other Locations

Continue to Guideline 543.1: Procedures for Search of Student Lockers, Desks, Personal Possessions, Student's Person, Motor Vehicles and All Other Locations

I. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to provide for a safe and healthful educational environment by enforcing the school district’s policies against contraband.

II. DEFINITIONS

A. "Contraband" means any unauthorized item possession of which is prohibited by school district policy and/or law.  It includes but is not limited to weapons and "look-alikes," alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, controlled substances and "look-alikes," materials belonging to the school district, and stolen property.

B. "Personal possessions" includes but is not limited to purses, backpacks, book bags, packages, clothing, and electronic devices.  It does not include electronic devices owned by the school district.

C. "Reasonable suspicion" means that a school official has grounds to believe that the search will result in evidence of a violation of school district policy, rules, and/or law.  Reasonable suspicion may be based on a school official's personal observation, a report from a student or staff member or other individual, a student's suspicious behavior, a student's age and past history or record of conduct both in and out of the school context, an “alert” or signal received in the course of conducting a search of lockers or vehicles parked in school parking lots or property, or other reliable sources of information.

D. "Reasonable scope" means that the scope and/or intrusiveness of the search is reasonably related to the objectives of the search. Factors to consider in determining what is reasonable include the seriousness of the suspected infraction, the reliability of the information, the necessity of acting without delay, the existence of exigent circumstances necessitating an immediate search and further investigation (e.g. to prevent violence, serious and immediate risk of harm or destruction of evidence), and the age of the student. 

III. GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICY

A. Lockers and Personal Possessions within a Locker

Pursuant to Minnesota statute, school lockers are the property of the school district.  At no time does the school district relinquish its exclusive control of lockers provided for the convenience of students.  Inspection of the interior of lockers may be conducted by school authorities for any reason at any time, without notice, without consent, and without a search warrant.  The personal possessions of students within a school locker may be searched only when school authorities have a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence of a violation of law or school rules.  As soon as practicable after the search of a student's personal possessions, the school authorities must provide notice of the search to students whose possessions were searched unless disclosure would impede an ongoing investigation by police or school officials.

B. Desks

School desks are the property of the school district. At no time does the school district relinquish its exclusive control of desks provided for the convenience of students. Inspection of the interior of desks may be conducted by school officials for any reason at any time, without notice, without consent, and without a search warrant. 

C. Other Locations

Searches may be conducted in all locations where school authorities have supervisory responsibilities. 

D. Personal Possessions and Student's Person

The personal possessions of students and/or a student's person may be searched when school officials have a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover a violation of law or school rules. The search will be reasonable in its scope and intrusiveness. 

E. It shall be a violation of this policy for students to use lockers and desks for unauthorized purposes or to store contraband. It shall be a violation for students to carry contraband on their person or in their personal possessions on school premises. 

IV. PATROLS, INSPECTIONS, AND SEARCHES OF MOTOR VHECLES 

A. School officials may conduct routine patrols of school district locations and routine inspections of the exteriors of the motor vehicles of students.  In addition, the interiors of motor vehicles of students in school district locations may be searched when school officials have a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover a violation of law and/or school policy or rule. 

B. Prohibition of Contraband and Interference with Patrols, Inspections, Searches, and/or Seizures 

A violation of this policy occurs when students store or carry contraband in motor vehicles in a school district location or interfere with patrols, inspections, searches, and/or seizures as provided by this policy. 

V. SEIZURE OF CONTRABAND

If a search yields contraband, school officials will take the item and, may turn it over to legal authorities.

VI. VIOLATIONS

A student found to have violated this policy and/or the directives and guidelines implementing it shall be subject to discipline in accordance with Board Policy 541 - Student Behavior which may include suspension, exclusion, or expulsion, and the student may, when appropriate, be referred to legal authorities.

Legal References:

  • U.S. Const., Fourth Amendment
  • Minn. Const., art. I, 10 
  • New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 105 S.Ct. 733, 83 L.Ed.2d 720 (1985) 
  • Minn. Stat. 121A.72 (school locker policy) 

Cross Reference:

  • Board Policy 110 - Chemical Use/Abuse
  • Board Policy 104 - Drug Free Workplace/Drug Free School
  • Board Policy 107 – Electronic Use and Communication
  • Board Policy 111 - Weapons on School Premises
  • Board Policy 541 - Student Behavior

ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION:  August 7, 1995, 

AMENDED BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION:

  • April 16, 2001
  • January 21, 2003

REVISED BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION:  January 22, 2019