5085 - Search and Seizure

Policy 5085 Search and Seizure title box

It is the policy of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, Bennington School District, Inc., Mount Anthony Union School District, North Bennington Graded School District, Pownal School District, Shaftsbury School District, and Woodford School District to permit and conduct reasonable searches of school property, students, and their personal property, and the seizure of such property as provided below.
  1. For purposes of this policy, the phrase "Loaned Property" shall mean desks, lockers, textbooks and other materials, equipment or supplies owned by the school district which are assigned or loaned to, or possessed or used by, an individual student for his/her appropriate use.
  2. Students have no expectation of privacy with respect to Loaned Property. Loaned Property may be opened, inspected or otherwise accessed by school employees for purposes of cleaning or maintenance, in an emergency or under exigent or other circumstances, without prior notice to the student to whom the Loaned Property is assigned. Loaned Property may be searched by an agent of the school district on school grounds or at school activities/functions (including field trips), upon reasonable suspicion by school personnel that (i) a law or school policy or rule is being or has been violated (ii) evidence thereof may be found within the Loaned Property. School property other than Loaned Property may be searched at will by school administrator/ his or her designee.
  3. Items or evidence of activity prohibited by school policies or rules found in the course of the school's access to or search of Loaned Property, or as a result of a search of other school property, will be confiscated and turned over to the principal for further investigation and, where appropriate, disciplinary action. Items found which school personnel reasonably believe to be illegal and any evidence of unlawful activity found in the course of the school access to or search of Loaned Property, or a search of other school property, shall be reported and turned over to law enforcement authorities.
  4. Searches of students' outer clothing, personal property belonging to a student, and/or vehicles parked on school property may be undertaken when school officials have a reasonable suspicion that a violation of law and/or school policy or rules is occurring or has occurred and that evidence thereof may be found in the course of such a search. Searches should not be intrusive. Unless an emergency situation (drugs, alcohol and safety concerns) exists, a good faith effort will be made to contact the parent/legal guardian prior to a search of a student's outer clothing or personal belongings. The search will be conducted by a school administrator with an employee of the same gender as the student and in an area of the school or under conditions intended to reasonably protect the privacy interests and dignity of the student.
  5. Information and data entered, copied or scanned into, downloaded to, accessed by or stored on a computer (including any computer media) belonging to the school district, whether or not that computer is assigned to a particular student, a group of students, or is generally available for student use, shall be the property of the school district fully available to and accessible by the school district, and no student shall have an expectation of privacy with respect thereto. All files and documents maintained on such computers may be reviewed, searched, printed, copied, downloaded or otherwise reproduced by school personnel at will and without the consent of any student. Access to computer equipment is provided to students with the understanding and expectation that the equipment will be used exclusively for schoolwork and assignments, and school personnel shall have unlimited and unrestricted access thereto.
  6. School employees are not agents of law enforcement officials. Search and/or seizure by law enforcement officials on school property, including searches using animals or technological systems may occur when a properly issued search warrant is presented or other legal basis exists authorizing such searches and/or seizures, and when the requirements of the Board's policy on interrogations by law enforcement officers have been met.
  7. The superintendent, the principal, or an assistant principal may, when he/she has reasonable cause to believe that illegal activities have occurred or are occurring within the school, or that contraband materials, including drugs or weapons, are present on school grounds, request that law enforcement personnel conduct a search of school property aided by specially trained animals and/or technological devices. Items or evidence of activity prohibited by school policies or rules found in the course of the school's access to or search of Loaned Property, or as a result of a search of other school property, will be confiscated and turned over to the principal for further investigation and, where appropriate, disciplinary action. Items, which reasonably appear to be illegal, and any evidence of unlawful activity found in the course of the school's access to or search of Loaned Property, or a search of other school property, shall be reported and turned over to law enforcement authorities.
  8. Copies of this policy will be distributed to students when they enroll in school, and/or this policy will be included in the student handbook given to students at the beginning of each school year.

References:
Policy #5090-Interrogation by Law

Policy 5085 warning and adoption dates