512 – Student Searches

512.1 Prohibited Items. In the interest of maintaining the health, safety and good order of the school environment, students shall not have prohibited items in their possession or control on school grounds, on school vehicles, or while attending or participating in school activities or events. Prohibited items are such things as tobacco products, beer, wine, alcoholic beverages, controlled substances which have not been validly prescribed, “look alike” tobacco, alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, apparatus used for the administration of controlled substances, weapons, explosives, toy weapons or explosives, poisons, stolen property, or other devices or materials which are intended to interfere with school order. Licensed school employees and other employees of the District employed for security or supervision purposes (“authorized personnel”) may, without a warrant, search a student, a student’s belongings, student lockers, automobiles on school property, desks, facilities, or work areas under the circumstances outlined below in order to maintain the safety, health, discipline and order of the school environment.

512.2 Personal Searches.

512.2(1) Reasonable Suspicion. Searches of students, their clothing, pocketbooks, briefcases, book bags, duffel bags or other personal containers in the possession of or in the immediate proximity of the student, and searches of automobiles on school property shall be conducted only if there is a reasonable articulable suspicion that a criminal offense has been committed or a school rule has been violated by the student being searched and that the search will provide evidence of such violation. The search shall be conducted in a manner which is reasonably related to the objectives of the search and shall not be excessively intrusive in light of the age and gender of the student and the nature of the infraction. If the student is not present, another adult shall be present and the student shall be notified of the search either prior to or as soon as reasonably practicable after the search is conducted. Reasonable suspicion may be formed by considering such factors as:

  1. Eye witness observations by school personnel; or
  2. Information received from a reliable source; or
  3. Suspicious behavior by the student; or
  4. The student’s past history; or
  5. Articulable circumstantial evidence.

512.2(2) Reasonable Scope. All searches of students or their belongings as specified in subsection 512.2(1) shall be reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which gave rise to the need for the search and shall be based upon consideration of relevant factors which include, but are not limited to:

  1. The nature of the violation for which the search is being instituted;
  2. The age or ages and gender of the students who may be searched;
  3. The objectives to be accomplished;
  4. The emergency requiring the search without delay.

512.2(3) Procedures. Authorized personnel may ask a student to open and/or empty his/her pockets, handbag, briefcase, book bag, duffel bag, or other personal belonging when there is reasonable suspicion that the student has a prohibited item in his/her possession. If the student fails to comply, an administrative staff member or his/her designee may search the student or the student’s belongings, in the presence of another adult. Searches which involve a pat-down of the student or which involve the removal of any clothing (e.g., jacket or socks) shall be conducted by a person of the same sex as the student and shall be conducted in private and in the presence of a witness of the same sex. Except in cases of emergency (e.g., it is believed the student may harm himself/herself or others), other staff members shall not conduct a search. Strip searches, body cavity searches and the use of a drug-sniffing animal to search a student’s body shall not be allowed. If a prohibited item is found in a personal search, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken. Items which may be illegal to possess may be turned over to proper authorities.

512.3 Lockers, Desks and School Facilities

512.3(1) Periodic Inspections. Lockers, desks and other facilities and spaces remain at all times property of the District, even though temporarily assigned as a courtesy to students. These facilities are subject to unannounced inspections, and students have no legitimate expectations of privacy in these facilities even though they may be locked. Written notice shall be given annually to each student and his/her parents, guardians, or custodians that the District may conduct periodic inspections without prior notice of all or a randomly selected number of school lockers, desks, and other facilities or spaces owned by the District and provided as a courtesy to students. The inspection shall occur in the presence of the student or at least one other person. If a prohibited item is found in a periodic inspection, the student may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, and items which may be illegal to possess may be turned over to proper authorities.

512.3(2) Search. An administrative staff member or his/her designee may search a locker, desk or other assigned facility or space when there is a reasonable suspicion the student has a prohibited item. The student need not be present at the time of the search, but another person shall be present. Other authorized personnel may request a student to open his/her locker, desk or other assigned facility or space and disclose its contents when there is a reasonable suspicion the student has a prohibited item in the facility. Except in cases of emergency, nonadministrative staff personnel shall not search the locker, desk or other facility or space without the student’s consent. If a prohibited item is found in a search, the student may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, and items which may be illegal to possess may be turned over to the proper authorities.

512.4 Searches by Law Enforcement Officials. Law enforcement officials, other than the District’s police liaison officer, will not be allowed to search students, their belongings, desks, lockers or automobiles on school premises unless pursuant to an arrest, a valid warrant or other reason allowed by law.

Date of Revision: March 26, 2018

Legal References: 279.8, 279.9, 280.14, Chapter 808, Chapter 808A, Code of Iowa; 281 I.A.C. 12.3(6


Email a Policy

Please Note: The "Email A Policy" function is intended to enable users to email a Board Policy directly to a recipient of their choosing. If you would like to reach the Urbandale District Administrative Office, please email Julie Mitchell mitchellj@urbandaleschools.com
  • A link to this policy will be emailed with your message.