PCSSD - 4.32 Search Seizure and Interrogations

4.32 Search Seizure and Interrogations

The District respects the rights of its students against arbitrary intrusion of their person and property. At the same time, it is the responsibility of school officials to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all students enrolled in the District in order to promote an environment conducive to student learning. The Superintendent, principals, and their designees have the right to inspect and search school property and equipment. They may also search students and their personal property in which the student has a reasonable expectation of privacy, when there is reasonable and individualized suspicion to believe such student or property contains illegal items or other items in violation of Board policy or dangerous to the school community. School authorities may seize evidence found in the search and disciplinary action may be taken. Evidence found which appears to be in violation of the law shall be reported to the appropriate authority.

School property shall include, but not be limited to, lockers, desks, and parking lots, as well as personal effects left there by students. When possible, prior notice will be given and the student will be allowed to be present along with an adult witness; however, searches may be done at any time with or without notice or the student’s consent. A personal search must not be excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction.

The Superintendent, principals, and their designees may request the assistance of law enforcement officials to help conduct searches. Such searches may include the use of specially trained dogs.

A school official of the same sex shall conduct personal searches with an adult witness of the same sex present.

State Law requires that Department of Human Services employees, local law enforcement, or agents of the Crimes Against Children Division of the Department of Arkansas State Police, may interview students without a court order for the purpose of investigating suspected child abuse. In instances where the interviewers deem it necessary, they may exercise a “72-hour hold ” without first obtaining a court order. Other questioning of students by non-school personnel shall be granted only with a court order directing such questioning, with permission of the parents of a student (or the student if above eighteen [18] years of age), or in response to a subpoena or arrest warrant.

If the District makes a report to any law enforcement agency concerning student misconduct or if access to a student is granted to a law enforcement agency due to a court order, the principal or the principal’s designee shall make a good faith effort to contact the student’s parent, legal guardian, or other person having lawful control by court order, or person acting in loco parentis on student enrollment forms. The principal or the principal's designee shall not attempt to make such contact if presented documentation by the investigator that notification is prohibited because a parent, guardian, custodian, or person standing in loco parentis is named as an alleged offender of the suspected child maltreatment. This exception applies only to interview requests made by a law enforcement officer, an investigator of the Crimes Against Children Division of the Department of Arkansas State Police, or an investigator or employee of the Department of Human Services.

In instances other than those related to cases of suspected child abuse, principals must release a student to either a police officer who presents a subpoena for the student, or a warrant for arrest, or to an agent of state social services or an agent of a court with jurisdiction over a child with a court order signed by a judge. Upon release of the student, the principal or designee shall give the student’s parent, legal guardian, or other person having lawful control by court order, or person acting in loco parentis notice that the student has been taken into custody by law enforcement personnel or a state’s social services agency. If the principal or designee is unable to reach the parent, he or she shall make a reasonable, good faith effort to get a message to the parent to call the principal or designee, and leave both a day and an after-hours telephone number.

Students have the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure by either state, federal or school officials.

School administrators have the responsibility to make a determination of the point at which the student’s right to protection against unreasonable search and seizure is in conflict with the administrator’s official duty to maintain a safe, orderly and efficient school. Search and seizure by the administrator or his designee may occur when reasonable suspicion exists.

A student’s person and/or personal effects may be searched whenever a school authority has reasonable and individualized suspicion to believe that the student is in possession of illegal or unauthorized materials. Parents must pick up confiscated possessions such as, but not limited to radios, tape/CD players, pagers, cell phones, or other electronic communication devices by the end of each semester.

If a pat-down search of a student’s person is conducted, it shall be conducted in private by a school official of the same sex in the presence of an adult witness of the same sex.

Search and seizure by law enforcement officials will occur only when a probable cause exists. School administrators have the responsibility to make students aware of search and seizure procedures involving school property or person.

Metal detectors will be used for general scanning in all schools. General scans will be defined as the use of metal detectors to search all students who are present at school on the day of the search.

School employees who are not wearing ID badges and patrons may be subject to scanning when entering a school building during the day.

All individuals may be subject to general scanning when entering buildings, gymnasiums and stadiums for events and activities scheduled outside the school day.

If weapons or illegal substances are found during the process of scanning, District policy, local, state and federal laws will be followed.

Procedures for scanning are as follows:

  1. Each secondary principal will have a prepared plan for general scanning in their buildings.
    These plans will be on file in the office of the Executive Director of Operations or his designee.
    Said plan will include details related to:
    • The number of teachers to be used in the scanning process
    • Staff assignment
    • Procedures for search of the grounds and buses
    • Procedures for securing the building so that when general student population scanning takes place, students may not enter or leave except through designated exits/entrances
    • Provisions for locker searches
  2. Within 48 hours of either a random or a general scan, a written report using the form available for this purpose will be submitted to the Executive Director of Operations or his designee.
    Any teacher/school employee who observes scanning will initial form when scanning is complete.
  3. The scanner will be available for elementary schools provided a building-level plan has been established and students’ parents/guardians have been notified.
  4. The conduct of scan searches will follow these listed procedures:
    • The metal detector will be passed over the student on each side, front and back.
    • If any metal is registered, the student may be:
    • instructed to empty his pockets;
    • instructed to pull up his pant leg so that socks and shoes may be checked;
    • asked to take off jackets to be hand searched;
    • asked to submit purses/book bags for search;
    • asked to turn a belt buckle over to expose the backside in order to ensure that no weapon is concealed.
    Once the object that caused the alarm is located, and the alarm does not sound when passed over the student, the search will stop.
  5. If after completing these procedures there is still a reasonable belief that the student is concealing a weapon on his person based on the sounds produced by the metal detector, the student may be asked to accompany an administrator to the office.
    In the privacy of an office and with a teacher of the same sex present as a witness, the student will be asked to produce any weapon or metal items on his person. At no time will a strip search be conducted. If a pat-down search of a student’s person is conducted, it will be performed by a school official or a certified employee of the same sex who has volunteered to conduct the search. If the proposed designee should refuse to participate, that refusal will not be reflected on the employee’s record. The search will be conducted in private and in the presence of an adult witness of the same sex.

    If the above measures do not yield the object that is causing the detector to indicate the presence of an object, then the student’s parent/guardian will be contacted and the student will be detained until the parent/guardian comes to school. If the parent/guardian will not or cannot aid in locating the object that is present, the parent/guardian will be informed that police will be contacted for assistance.

    Arkansas Statute 5-73-122 and School Law of Arkansas 6-21-608 give ample justification for police assistance in that reasonable cause has been established that the student is secreting an illegal object on his person that is believed to be a weapon.
  6. The media will not be present during scanning activities, nor will pictures be taken of students who are being scanned.


Legal References:

  • A.C.A. § 6-18-513
  • A.C.A. § 9-13-104
  • A.C.A. § 12-18-608, 609, 610, 613
  • A.C.A. § 12-18-1001, 1005

Date Adopted:  4/10/18