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District Policies

Viewing Policy: BP 5145.12 – Search And Seizure

BP 5145.12


Search And Seizure


The San Benito County Board of Education (County Board) is fully committed to promoting a safe learning environment and, to the extent possible, eliminating the possession and use of weapons, illegal drugs, and other controlled substances by students on school premises and at school activities.  As necessary to protect the health and welfare of students and staff, school officials may search students, their property, and/or San Benito County Office of Education (SBCOE) property under their control and may seize illegal, unsafe, or otherwise prohibited items.


The County Board urges that employees exercise discretion and good judgment.  When conducting a search or seizure, employees shall act in accordance with law, Board policy, and administrative regulation.


The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that staff who conduct student searches receive training regarding the requirements of the district’s policy and administrative regulation and other legal issues, as appropriate.


Individual Searches


School officials may search any individual student, his/her property, or SBCOE 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 SBCOE 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 SBCOE property, cellular phones, or other electronic communication devices.


Any search of a student, his/her property, or SBCOE property under his/her control shall be limited in scope and designed to produce evidence related to the alleged violation.  Factors to be considered by school officials when determining the scope of the search shall include the danger to the health or safety of students or staff, such as the possession of weapons, drugs, or other dangerous instruments, and whether the item(s) to be searched by school officials are reasonably related to the contraband to be found. In addition, school officials shall consider the intrusiveness of the search in light of the student’s age, gender, and the nature of the alleged violation.


Employees shall not conduct strip searches or body cavity searches of any student.  (Education Code 49050)


Searches of individual students shall be conducted in the presence of at least two SBCOE employees.


The principal or designee shall notify the parent/guardian of a student subjected to an individualized search as soon as possible after the search.



Searches of Multiple Student Lockers/Desks


All student lockers and desks are the property of the SBCOE.  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.


Use of Metal Detectors


The County Board believes that the presence of weapons in the schools threatens the SBCOE’s ability to provide the safe and orderly learning environment to which district students and staff are entitled.  The County Board also believes that metal detector searches offer a reasonable means to keep weapons out of the schools and mitigate the fears of students and staff.


The Superintendent or designee shall use metal detectors at SBCOE schools as necessary to help provide a safe learning environment.  He/she shall establish a plan to ensure that metal detector searches are conducted in a uniform and consistent manner.


Use of Contraband Detection Dogs


In an effort to keep the schools free of dangerous contraband, the SBCOE may use specially trained, nonaggressive dogs to sniff out and alert staff to the presence of substances prohibited by law or Board policy.


The dogs may sniff the air around lockers, desks, or vehicles on SBCOE property or at SBCOE-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.



Legal Reference:


32280-32289  School safety plans

35160  Authority of governing boards

35160.1  Broad authority of school districts

48900-48927  Suspension and expulsion

49050-49051  Searches by school employees

49330-49334  Injurious objects

PENAL CODE: 626.9  Firearms; 626.10  Dirks, daggers, knives or razor

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION: Article I, Section 28(c)  Right to Safe Schools


Redding v. Safford Unified School District, (9th Cir. 2008) 531 F.3d 1071

B.C. v. Plumas, (9th Cir. 1999) 192 F.3d 1260

Jennings v. Joshua Independent School District, (5th Cir. 1989) 877 F.2d 313

O’Connor v. Ortega, (1987) 480 U.S. 709

New Jersey v. T.L.O., (1985) 469 U.S. 325

Horton v. Goose Creek Independent School District, (5th Cir. 1982) 690 F.2d 470

Zamora v. Pomeroy, (10th Cir. 1981) 639 F.2d 662

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS: 83 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 257 (2001); 75 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 155 (1992)


Policy Adopted: 6-14-18