Policy Details Page
Searches of Students and Their Property
A student is subject to search by district staff if reasonable grounds exist to suspect that evidence of a violation of the law or school rules will be uncovered. School staff shall report a student's suspicious activity to the principal prior to initiating a search, except in emergency situations.
Establishing reasonable grounds
The following review of the basis for the search should occur before conducting a search. A search is mandatory if there is reasonable grounds to suspect a student has illegally possessed a firearm in violation of RCW 9.41.280:
- Identify: 1) the student's suspicious conduct, behavior, or activity; 2) the source of the information; and 3) the reliability of the source of such information.
- If suspicion could be confirmed, would such conduct be a violation of the law, district policy, or school rule?
- Is the student likely to possess or have concealed any item, material, or substance which is itself prohibited or which would be evidence of a violation of the law or a school rule?
Conducting the search
If the principal, or his or her designee, determines that reasonable grounds exist to search a student's clothing, personal effects, desk, locker, assigned storage area, or automobile, the search shall be conducted as follows:
- If evidence of violation of a law, district policy or school rule is suspected, proceed to search by asking the student to remove all items from pockets, purses, handbags, backpacks, gym bags, etc.
- If the student refuses to cooperate in a personal search, the principal or his/her designee may conduct the search without the student's consent.
- No student may be subject to a strip search or body cavity search by school staff.
Lockers, desks, and storage areas are the property of the school district. When assigned a locker, desk, or storage area, a student shall be responsible for its proper care. A student may be subject to a fine for any willful damage to school property. Students are encouraged to keep their assigned lockers closed and locked.
Building principals should refer to these procedures for conducting searches of students and their property for guidance in establishing whether a search is reasonable under the circumstances.
Principals may search all lockers, desks, or storage areas without prior notice given to students and without reasonable suspicion that the search will yield evidence of any particular student's violation of the law or school rules.
Administrative inspections, or health and welfare inspections, may be conducted at any time for the purpose of locating misplaced library books, textbooks, or other school property or to ensure that all lockers, desks, or storage areas are being kept clean and free from potential health or safety hazards. Periodic inspections of lockers will reinforce the district's ownership of lockers and the minimal expectation of privacy students have in the contents of their lockers.
During a search of all student lockers, if the school official conducting the search discovers any container within the locker which may conceal contraband, the container may be searched according to district procedures governing searches of students and their property. A "container" for the purpose of this policy may include but is not limited to: an article of clothing, a handbag, purse, backpack, gym bag, or any other item in which contraband material may be concealed.
- student property