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502.15 Searches and Seizures

District property is held in public trust by the Board. District authorities may, without a search warrant, search students or protected student areas based on a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a District policy, rule, regulation or law has been violated. The search is in a manner reasonable in scope to maintain order and discipline in the District, promote the educational environment, and protect the safety and welfare of students, employees and visitors to the District facilities. The furnishing of a locker, desk, parking space, or other facility or space owned by the District and provided as a courtesy to a student, even if the student provides the lock for it, will not create a protected student area and will not give rise to an expectation of privacy with respect to the locker, desk, parking space, or other facility.

District authorities may seize any illegal, unauthorized or contraband materials discovered in the search. Items of contraband may include, but are not limited to, nonprescription controlled substances, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, cannabinoids, arbiturates, apparatus used for controlled substances, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, e-cigarette or components, weapons, explosives, poisons and stolen property. Such items are not to be possessed by a student while they are on District property or on property within the jurisdiction of the District; while on District owned and/or operated District or chartered vehicles; while attending or engaged in District activities; and while away from District grounds if misconduct will directly affect the good order, efficient management and welfare of the District. Possession of such items will be grounds for disciplinary action including suspension or expulsion and may be reported to local law enforcement officials. The Board believes that illegal, unauthorized or contraband materials may cause material and substantial disruption to the school environment or presents a threat to the health and safety of students, employees, or visitors on the District premises or property within the jurisdiction of the District.

It is the responsibility of the Superintendent/designee, in conjunction with the principals, to develop administrative regulations regarding this policy.

Legal Reference:
U.S. Const. amend. IV.
New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985).
Cason v. Cook, 810 F.2d 188 (8th Cir. 1987), cert. den., 482 U.S. 930 (1987).
Iowa Code ch. 808A (2007).
281 I.A.C. 12.3(6).

Cross Reference:
502.00 Student Rights and Responsibilities
503.00 Student Discipline

R.R. 1 502.15

  1. Searches, in general.
    1. Reasonable and Articulable Suspicion: A search of a student will be justified when there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating the law or school district policy, rules, or regulations affecting school order. Reasonable suspicion may be formed by considering factors such as the following:
      1. eyewitness observations;
      2. information received from reliable sources;
      3. suspicious behavior by the student; and/or,
      4. the student’s past history and school record although this factor alone is not sufficient to provide the basis for reasonable suspicion.
    2. Reasonable Scope: A search will be permissible in its scope or intrusiveness when the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search. Reasonableness of scope or intrusiveness may be determined based on factors such as the following:
      1. the age of the student;
      2. the sex of the student;
      3. the nature of the infraction; and/or
      4. the emergency requiring the search without delay.
  2. Types of Searches
    1. Personal Searches
      1. A student’s person and/or personal effects (e.g., purse, backpack, etc.) may be searched when a District official has reasonable suspicion to believe the student is in possession of illegal or contraband items or has violated District policies, rules, regulations or the law affecting school order.
      2. Personally intrusive searches will require more compelling circumstances to be considered reasonable.
        1. Pat-Down Search: If a pat-down search or a search of a student’s garments (such as jackets, socks, pockets, etc.) is conducted, it will be conducted in private by a District official of the same sex as the student and another same sex adult witness, when feasible.
        2. A more intrusive search, short of a strip search, of the student’s person, handbags, book bags, etc., is permissible in emergency situations when the health and safety of students, employees, or visitors are threatened. Such a search may only be conducted in private by a District official of the same sex as the student, with another same sex adult witness present unless the health or safety of students will be endangered by the delay which may be caused by following these procedures.
  3. Locker and Desk Inspections
    1. Although school lockers and desks are temporarily assigned to individual students, they remain the property of the District at all times. The District has a reasonable and valid interest in insuring the lockers and desks are properly maintained. For this reason, lockers and desks are subject to unannounced inspections and students have no legitimate expectations of privacy in the locker or desk. Periodic inspections of all or a random selection of lockers or desks may be conducted by District officials in the presence of the student or another individual. Any contraband discovered during such searches will be confiscated by District officials and may be turned over to law enforcement officials.
    2. The contents of a student’s locker or desk (coat, backpack, purse, etc.) may be searched when a District official has reasonable and articulable suspicion that the contents contains illegal or contraband items or evidence of a violation of law or District policy or rule. Such searches should be conducted in the presence of another adult witness when feasible.
  4. Automobile Searches
    1. Students are permitted to park on District premises as a matter of privilege, not of right. The District retains authority to conduct routine patrols of the student parking lots. The interior of a student’s automobile on the District premises may be searched if the District official has reasonable and/or articulable suspicion to believe illegal, unauthorized or contraband items are contained inside.

Click here for the Search and Seizure checklist.


November 17, 1997


October 21, 2019