School administrators have the responsibility for maintaining a safe school environment so that students and staff may focus on learning. School administrators, upon becoming aware of a threat to the safe school environment and based on reasonable suspicion, have the authority to conduct searches of students, student belongings, student lockers,and student automobiles, if parked on campus. Searches will follow procedures and guidelines and will be in accordance with the parameters established by law.
Searches by Staff
The right of inspection of students’ persons, belongings, school lockers, or automobiles parked on campus is inherent in the authority granted to School Committees and Administrators. This authority may be exercised as needed in situations involving the safeguarding of students and school personnel, student’s and school personnel’s property, and school property.
Nevertheless, exercise of that authority by school officials places unusual demands upon their judgment so as to protect each child’s constitutional rights to personal privacy and protection from coercion and to act in the best interest of all students and the schools.
Searches by school officials of a student’s person, belongings, or locker, or automobile parked on campus will be conducted in a way that protects the student’s rights consistent with the responsibility of the school system to provide an atmosphere conducive to the educational process.
A school official’s decision to conduct a search must balance the school’s concern that gives rise to the search against the student’s legitimate expectations of privacy. To acquaint students with the limits to their expectations of privacy when they are on school property, the school handbook will contain information about the school’s authority to search a student’s person, belongings, locker, and automobile parked on campus.
The decision to conduct a search results from reasonable suspicion,based on specific facts and based on rational inferences from those facts, which would reasonably warrant a search by a school official. The nature and the scope of the search should be appropriate for the situation and for the immediacy of the school’s concern which led to the search.
Interrogations by Police
The schools have legal custody of students during the school day and during hours of approved extracurricular activities. It is the responsibility of the school administration to make an effort to protect each student’s rights with respect to interrogations by law enforcement officials. Therefore:
When law enforcement officials find it necessary to question students during the school day or periods of extracurricular activities, the school principal or his/her designee will be present. The student’s parent or guardian will be notified of the situation as soon as possible.
U.S.C. 4th amendment
Region Voted to Approve: 11/07/06
Amherst Voted to Approve: 11/14/06
Pelham Voted to Approve: 12/14/06
Effective Date: 12/14/06