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Tamalpais Union HSD |  BP  5145.12  Students

Search And Seizure   

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The Board of Trustees is committed to maintaining an environment for students and staff which is safe and conducive to learning and working. The Board recognizes that incidents may occur where the health, safety and welfare of students and staff are jeopardized and which necessitate the search and seizure of students, their property, or their lockers by school officials.

(cf. 5145.11  Questioning and Apprehension)

The Board authorizes school officials to conduct searches when there are reasonable grounds or suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that the student is violating the law or the rules of the district or the school. The Board urges that discretion, good judgment and common sense be exercised in all cases of search and seizure. Employees will not conduct strip searches or body cavity searches.

In determining whether reasonable cause for a search 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 substantiative 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.

Student Lockers

Because lockers are under the joint control of the student and the district, school officials shall have the right and ability to open and inspect any school locker without student permission when they have reasonable suspicion that the search will disclose evidence of illegal possessions or activity or when odors, smoke, fire and/or other threats to student health, welfare or safety emanate from the locker.

(cf. 5131.6  Alcohol and Other Drugs)

The Board believes that the presence of drugs in the schools threatens the district's ability to provide the safe and orderly learning environment to which district students and staff are entitled. The Board also believes that using local police officers or contracting with security companies to conduct pat down searches before extracurricular activities offers a reasonable means to keep alcohol and drugs out of school activities and mitigates the fears of students and staff.

(cf. 5131.7  Weapons and Dangerous Instruments)

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


626.9 Firearms

626.10 Dirks, daggers, knives or razor


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


83 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 257 (2001)

75 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 155 (1992)

Management Resources:


The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools: A Guide for Schools and Law Enforcement Agencies, 1999



California Attorney General's Office:

California Department of Education, Safe Schools:

National Institute of Justice:


adopted: February 9, 1993 Larkspur, California

revised: April 6, 2010