Pursuant to Minnesota statutes, 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 student 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 lockers were searched unless disclosure would impede an ongoing investigation by police or school officials.
The policy above for school lockers also applies equally to student’s desks or personal possessions as defined herein. 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.
A violation of this policy occurs when students use lockers and desks for unauthorized purposes. A violation occurs when students carry contraband on their person or in their personal possessions.
1. “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-a-likes,” alcoholic beverages, controlled substances and “look-a-likes,” overdue books, and other materials belonging to the school district, and stolen property.
2. “Personal possessions” includes but is not limited to purses, backpacks, book bags, packages, and clothing.
3. “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 members, a student’ suspicious behavior, a student’s age and past history or record of conduct, or other reliable sources of information.
4. “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.
A. School officials may inspect lockers and desks at any time they believe inspection would be in the best interest of the school, the staff, or the student body. Student lockers, desks and personal possessions may be randomly searched throughout the school year without notice, without student consent and without a search warrant.
B. School officials may, in their discretion, employ the use of trained dogs for the purpose of conducting a general sniff search of student lockers and desks. If a dog alerts to a locker or desk, school officials will determine, based on the information available to them from the dog’s trainer, whether the dog’s alert gives rise to reasonable suspicion that contraband will be found. If it is determined that reasonable suspicion exists, an internal search of the locker or desk and its contents will be conducted. The search will be reasonable in its scope and intrusiveness.
C. School officials may, upon a finding of individualized reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts, employ the use of trained dogs for the purpose of conducting a sniff search of an employee’s desk. If a dog alerts to the desk, school officials will determine, based on the information available to them from the dog’s trainer, whether the dog’s alert gives rise to reasonable suspicion, then an internal search of the desk and its contents will be conducted. The search will be reasonable in its scope and intrusiveness.
D. School officials may, without a search warrant, search the person and/or personal possessions based on a reasonable suspicion. The search will be reasonable in its scope and intrusiveness.
E. As soon as practicable after a search pursuant to this policy, the school authorities must provide notice of the search to students whose possessions were searched unless disclosure would impede an ongoing investigation by policy or school officials.
F. A school official conducting any other search may determine when it is appropriate to have a second official present as an observer.
G. A search of a person shall be conducted in privacy by a school official of the same sex. An adult witness of the same sex shall be present as an observer during the search.
H. A copy of this policy will be printed in the student handbook or disseminated in any other way which school officials deem appropriate. The school district shall provide a copy of this policy to a student when the student is given use of a locker.
DIRECTIVES AND GUIDELINES
School administration may establish reasonable directives and guidelines which address specific needs of the school district, such as use of tape in lockers, standards of cleanliness and care, posting of pinups and posters which may constitute sexual harassment, or cause educational disruption, etc.
SEIZURE OF CONTRABAND
If a search yields contraband, school offices will seize the item and, where appropriate, turn it over to legal authorities for ultimate disposition.
A student found to have violated this policy and/or the directives and guidelines implementing it shall be subject to discipline in accordance with the school district’s Student Discipline Policy, which may include suspension, exclusion or expulsion, and the student may, when appropriate, be referred to legal authorities.
For additional information refer to School Board Policy 574
on the school district website or in the school office.