(BP 5145.12) The Board recognizes that incidents may occur which jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of students and staff and which necessitate the search and seizure of students, their property, or their lockers by school officials. School officials may search any individual student, his/her property, or District property under his/her control when there is a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that he/she is violating the law, board policy, administrative regulation, or other rules of the District or the school. Reasonable suspicion shall be based on specific and objective facts that the search will produce evidence related to the alleged violation.
The types of student property that may be searched by school officials include but are not limited to, lockers, desks, purses, backpacks, student vehicles parked on District property, cellular phones, or other electronic communication devices. For the purposes of this policy, asking a student to empty his/her pockets and/or backpack, purse, etc., does not constitute a search.
The principal or designee shall notify the parent/guardian of a student subjected to an individualized search as soon after the search as possible. (cf. 5145.11-Questioning and Apprehension; EC 49050)
Student Lockers: All student lockers and desks are the property of the District. The principal or designee may conduct a general inspection of school properties that are within the control of students, such as lockers and desks, on a regular, announced basis, with students standing by their assigned lockers or desks. Any items contained in a locker or desk shall be considered to be the property of the student to whom the locker or desk was assigned.
Canine Searches: In an effort to keep the schools free of dangerous contraband, the District may use specially trained non-aggressive dogs, including trained police dogs under the supervision of police canine units, to sniff out and alert staff to the presence of substances prohibited by law or board policy. Guidelines for such a program shall be approved by the Board prior to implementation.
The dogs may sniff the air around lockers, desks, or vehicles on District property or at District-sponsored events. Dogs shall not sniff within the close proximity of students or other persons and may not sniff any personal items on those persons without their consent. Appropriate personnel will advise students or persons of their right to refusal and the request to search. (cf. 0450-Comprehensive Safety Plan, cf. 5131.6-Alcohol and Other Drugs, cf. 5131.7-Weapons and Dangerous Instruments, cf. 5144.1-Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process)
Individual Searches: In determining whether reasonable suspicion exists, school officials shall consider:
1. The student’s age and previous behavior patterns.
2. The prevalence and seriousness in the school of the problem to which the search was directed.
3. The urgency requiring the search without delay.
4. The substantive value and reliability of the information used as a justification for the search.
5. The location of the student at the time of the incident, which gave rise to reasonable suspicion.
Searches shall be made in the presence of at least two other District employees. Employees will not conduct strip searches or body cavity searches. For the purposes of this regulation, asking a student to empty his/her pockets and/or backpack, does not constitute a search.
Contraband detection dogs shall not be used in classrooms or other District facilities when the rooms are occupied, except for demonstration purposes. Prior to conducting an inspection, students will be asked to leave backpacks, jackets, hats and personal items before leaving the classroom.
Guidelines for Canine Search and Training Program: The Canine Search and Training program, made available to secondary schools in the Simi Valley Unified School District by the Simi Valley Police Department, has two purposes. In addition to providing police canine units with venues to conduct training exercises, the program also serves to impress students with the importance of keeping themselves and our schools drug free. An added benefit of the program is that the presence of controlled substances or explosives on our campuses may be detected during the training exercises. The Canine Search and Training program is conducted in accordance with BP/AR 5145.12-Search and Seizure. Each year the program is in operation, the following guidelines shall be followed:
The program shall be implemented in coordination with the Simi Valley Police Department.
Prior to implementing the program, grade level assemblies may be held at each secondary school. If an assembly is held, both an administrator and a police officer shall be available after the assemblies to answer any questions students may have. If an assembly is not held, students will be fully informed of the program and its purpose before a training session takes place.
Before the program is implemented, parents and students shall be reminded of concerns related to the sharing of lockers. Students shall be advised that items in a locker, which has been issued to them, may be assumed to be their personal property. In cases where a locker has been issued jointly to two students, both students may be asked questions regarding any illegal substances found in the locker. Searches of parking lots shall be in all parking lots located on school premises.
It is understood that during the search and training exercises, officers will be in full duty uniform readily identifiable as law enforcement officers.
School searches will take place while students are in class. Searches may take place in a classroom, only after all students are removed from the classroom.
A staff member shall accompany the officer(s) and write down the number of any identified locker, thus eliminating the need for publicly “tagging” or identifying the locker in any way.
After the canine officers and their dogs have left an area, which has been searched, another adult will accompany each student whose locker was identified during the search to his/her locker. Staff will open the locker in the presence of the student(s) and remove any illegal contents. Our current policy states that, “... school officials shall have the right and ability to open and inspect any school locker without student permission when they have reasonable suspicion....” The canine search would establish reasonable suspicion.
If drugs or other illegal contraband are found, the administrator will confer with the student, notify his/her parents/guardians, and take appropriate disciplinary action. This will usually include a five-day suspension with a recommendation for expulsion when appropriate. The police will also be contacted as required.
At the end of each school year during which the program operates, the Simi Valley Unified School District and the Simi Valley Police Department will evaluate the program. Staff will make a recommendation to the Board regarding the continuation of the program for the next school year. At this time a recommendation may also be made regarding implementation of the program during summer school.
10. Each year that the program is in operation (except in years when the program does not begin with the start of school), the information regarding the program shall be included in each school’s handbook, agenda book or other written communication, which is distributed to students and parents/guardians before or at the beginning of each year.
The Guidelines for the Canine Search and Training program may be modified by action of the Board of Education. Recommendations for such modifications will be communicated in advance to the Simi Valley Police Department.