Policies and Regulations NEPN Code: JIH

Student Searches

Sioux Falls School District administrators are authorized to make searches of students, students’ personal property and vehicles and District owned/provided property under the conditions outlined below.

“District owned/provided property” includes, but is not limited to buildings, parking lots, desks, instruments, electronic devices, storage containers, storage areas, lockers, computer systems and equipment, voice-mail, and vehicles. This property is intended for use for educational purposes and District business only.

Student and Student Property Searches
A student and/or a student’s personal property (e.g. purse, back pack book bag, cell phone, electronic devices etc.) may be searched when a school administrator has reasonable suspicion to believe that the student is in possession of items that are unauthorized, illegal, or contraband or that the search will produce evidence of the violation of a school rule or potential harm to self or others.

Searches of a student's garments while being worn (such as jackets, socks, pockets, etc.) will be conducted in private. Two school employees, one of whom is a school administrator, must be present during the search. The employee who conducts the search must be the same gender as the student. A more intrusive search of the student's person is permissible in emergency situations when the health and safety of students, employees or visitors on the school premises are threatened. Such a search may only be conducted in private by a school administrator of the same gender, with an adult of the same gender present, unless the health or safety of students will be endangered by the delay caused by following these procedures.

A District staff member may take possession of a student’s personal cell phone or other personal electronic device brought onto District property when the student is observed using the device in a manner contrary to school rules. The electronic device will be delivered to building administration. An administrator may take possession and conduct a search of a student’s device brought onto District property if during the course of an investigation of a student discipline violation, the administration has reasonable suspicion that the electronic device may produce evidence related to the discipline violation or there is reasonable suspicion of a safety threat to self or others. In an emergency, an administrator may take possession of and hold the device without the student’s knowledge. If the student is arrested, the electronic device shall be turned over to law enforcement.

If a search has been conducted, the administration will inform the parent/guardian by the end of the day. If circumstances do not allow for verbal notification on the same day, a letter will be sent.

Student property may also be screened for the presence of weapons or prohibited items (e.g.drugs) by District administration or law enforcement using appropriate detection devices and may be screened in conjunction with law enforcement by using animals trained to locate and/or detect weapons and prohibited items.

Searches of Student Property at Events
Student property, including but not limited to backpacks, book bags, athletic bags, instrument cases and purses may be searched for weapons, drugs, contraband or prohibited items, as a condition of admittance to or participation in any school sponsored public event such as athletic contests, graduation ceremonies or other school programs.

Searches of District Owned/Provided Property
District owned/provided property is temporarily assigned to individual students but remains the property of the District at all times. Students have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality when using District owned/provided property.

However, students are expected to assume full responsibility for the security of District owned/provided property. Students are not to share District owned/provided property unless assigned by the administration (e.g. Students should not share private locker combinations with other students).

Maintenance Searches – The District has a reasonable and valid interest in ensuring that District owned/provided property is properly maintained. For this reason, periodic inspection of District owned/provided property is permissible to check for cleanliness and vandalism. General maintenance inspections may be conducted by school staff if instructed by the principal at any time without notice, without the student's consent and without a search warrant.

Any contraband discovered during such searches will be confiscated by the administration. The administration may refer a student to outside agencies for assistance depending upon the severity of the situation.

Non-maintenance Searches – District owned/provided property and its contents may be searched by a school administrator when a reasonable suspicion exists that the locker contains items that are unauthorized, illegal, or contraband. Whenever possible the student should be aware of and be involved in a search of such property Emergency situations may necessitate a search with or without the student's knowledge. Such searches should be conducted in the presence of another adult witness.

Vehicle Searches
Students are permitted to park on school premises as a matter of privilege, not a right. The school retains authority to conduct routine patrols of the student parking lots and inspections of the exterior of vehicles. The interior of a student's vehicle on the school premises may be searched by a school administrator if the administration has reasonable suspicion to believe items that are unauthorized, illegal, or contraband are contained inside. Whenever possible the student should be aware of and be involved in a search of the vehicle. Emergency situations may necessitate a search with or without the student's knowledge or consent. Such searches must always involve two adults.

Scope of any Search
Administration will consider the intrusiveness of the search in light of the age, gender, and the nature of the alleged violation. The scope of any search will be limited to only what is necessary due to the policy/rule violation under investigation. If the search discovers items not related to the policy/rule violation under investigation, but items are found that are in violation of the law or another school policy/rule, the student may be subject to additional discipline for that additional violation.

Law Enforcement Involvement
Any search and/or seizure by law enforcement officials will occur only when law enforcement officials properly advise school personnel that they have lawful authority to conduct the search and/or seizure.

Informing Students and Parents/Guardians
Schools shall inform students and parents/guardians of this policy regarding searches and provide written copies on request.


Legal References:

SDCL 13-5-1
SDCL 13-8-39

Related Policies/Regulations:

INJDC-R - Acceptable and Ethical Use of Technology Resources
GBEB - Code of Conduct


Policy   Board Action (formerly 5133)
Approved 10-10-94 27816  
Amended 09-08-97 28881  
Amended 10-23-06 34559  
Amended 02-28-11 35983  
Amended 09-08-14 36702  
Reviewed 04-13-20 38569