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502.8R1 Search and Seizure Administrative

  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 operation and order.

Reasonable suspicion may be formed by considering factors such as the following:

  1. eyewitness observations by employees;
  2. information received from reliable sources;
  3. suspicious behavior by the student; or,
  4. the student’s past history and school record although this factor alone is not sufficient to provide the basis for reasonable suspicion.
  1. Reasonable Scope: A search will be permissible in its scope or intrusiveness when the methods and types of search used 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
    4. the nature of the emergency requiring the search without delay.


  1. 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 school official has reasonable suspicion to believe the student is in possession of illegal or contraband items or has violated school district policies, rules, law, or regulations affecting school order and operation.
      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 school official of the same sex as the student and with another adult witness of the same sex present, when feasible.
        2. While school authorities cannot conduct a strip search [Iowa Law specifically does not permit strip searches to be conducted by school authorities (however, law enforcement officials are permitted to conduct such a search under certain conditions]; a more intrusive search, short of a strip search, of the student’s person, handbags, bookbags, 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 school official of the same sex as the student, with an adult of the same sex present unless the health or safety of students will be endangered by the delay which may be caused by following these procedures.
    2. Locker Inspections and Searches
      1. Inspections: Although school lockers are temporarily assigned to individual students, they remain the property of the school district at all times. The school district has a reasonable and valid interest in insuring the lockers are properly maintained. For this reason, periodic inspections of lockers is permissible to check for cleanliness and vandalism. Unannounced, periodic inspections of all or a random selection of lockers may be conducted by school officials in the presence of the student. Any contraband discovered during such searches shall be confiscated by school officials and may be turned over to law enforcement officials.
      2. Searches: The student’s locker and its contents may be searched when a school official has reasonable and articulable suspicion that the locker contains illegal or contraband items. Such searches should be conducted in the presence of another adult witness when feasible.
    3. Automobile Searches: Students are permitted to park on school premises as a matter of privilege, not of right. The school retains authority to conduct routine patrols of the student parking lots. The interior of a student’s automobile on the school premises may be searched if the school official has reasonable and articulable suspicion to believe that illegal, unauthorized or contraband items are contained inside.

Modified:  06/07/21
Reviewed:  05/17/21

  • Series 500 Students