Search and Seizure 5-65.1

School Board of the City of Virginia Beach
Regulation 5-65.1


Search and Seizure

A student's individual right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure is balanced against the school's responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of all persons within the school community. Any illegal materials discovered by school administrators will be seized and turned over to appropriate law personnel.

  1. Administrative Inspections

    Desks, lockers, and storage spaces are provided to students without charge and, therefore, are school property and remain under the control of the school. No student shall lock or otherwise impede access to any locker or storage area except with a lock provided by or approved by the principal of the school in which the locker or storage area is located. Unapproved locks shall be removed and destroyed. Periodic inspections of student desks, lockers or other storage areas may be conducted for any reason at any time without notice, student consent or a search warrant. Where an administrative inspection yields a reasonable suspicion that such area(s) contain illegal drugs, contraband, weapons, stolen property or other items which may be harmful to the school or its students and employees or that the student has violated, is violating, or is about to violate federal or state laws, city codes or school rules, school administrators may search the personal belongings of a student in a desk, locker or storage space.

    The decision to inspect a desk, locker or storage space and the belongings contained therein shall be made by the principal or his/her designee. Any inspection shall be made by the principal or his/her designee and a third party witness in the presence of the student if he or she is available. Reasonable efforts to locate the student shall be made prior to the search of a student's locker or personal property. If the student is present, the school official shall inform him/her of the circumstances, if any, justifying the inspection or search.

  2. Personal Searches

    Designated school officials may search a student's person and/or his or her personal effects (e.g. purse, book bag, etc.) when there is reasonable suspicion to believe that the student possesses an item which violates federal or state law, city code, school board policy or division regulation or which may be harmful to the school or its students.

    A second staff member shall be present during the search of either a student's person or a student's personal property in his/her immediate possession. Searches of the student's person shall be conducted in a private room by a person of the same sex being searched. Whenever feasible, an adult witness of the same sex will be present for a search of a student's person. Where the health or safety of students or staff may be endangered by delay, strict adherence to these procedures may be waived. The school official shall advise the student of the circumstances justifying the search of his/her person or personal belongings. If the student is not present, he or she shall be informed of the search within a reasonable time thereafter. School officials shall notify the parent(s)/guardian(s) of any student whose person or personal belongings have been searched of the circumstances justifying the search and the results thereof. Searches of the person of a student shall be limited to:

    1. The contents of student's pockets;
    2. Any object in the possession of the student including but not limited to, a purse, wallet, shoes, socks, outerwear, backpack or book bag.
  3. Strip Searches

    Strip searches of students are not permitted. For purposes of this regulation, "strip search" of a student shall have the same meaning as set forth in § 19.2-59.1 of the Code of Virginia, including, but not limited to, having a student remove or arrange some or all of his/her clothing so as to permit a visual inspection of the undergarments of such person. School officials may require a student to remove coats, jackets, hats, shoes, and shirts or sweaters which are worn over other shirts. Such a search will be conducted in private, by a school official of the same sex as the student and in the presence of another school official of the same sex as the student. Searches of this nature will not constitute strip searches. More extensive searches of students will be referred to a law enforcement officer in accordance with subsection F of this regulation. Nothing in this regulation will prevent a school official from conducting a search of a student's person or clothing if the student poses an immediate danger to himself or others by possessing such item.

  4. Search of Motor Vehicles

    The privilege of bringing a student-operated motor vehicle onto school premises is hereby conditioned on written consent by the student driver, the owner of the motor vehicle and the parent or guardian of the student to allow a search of that motor vehicle when there is reasonable suspicion for the search of that motor vehicle. Refusal by a student, parent or guardian or the motor vehicle owner to provide or allow access to a motor vehicle on school premises at the time of a request to search the motor vehicle, shall be cause for termination, without further hearing, of the privilege of bringing a motor vehicle onto school premises. The principal, or a member of the administrative staff designated in writing by the principal, may request a law enforcement officer to search a motor vehicle on school premises, pursuant to subsection F of this regulation.

  5. Confiscated Materials

    Items reported stolen to school administration and items that are specifically prohibited by law, School Board policy or city or school regulations may be confiscated. Each and every item seized will be identified and will not be commingled with other items previously seized or subsequently seized. The student shall be given a receipt for any items confiscated by school authorities, and a parent(s)/legal guardian(s) shall be notified of any and all items confiscated. Items seized may be admitted as evidence in any suspension or expulsion proceeding. Storage, return or destruction of such items shall be at the discretion of the principal, subject only to requirements under applicable law to turn such items over to the proper law enforcement authorities. Illegal or dangerous material will be reported to the Superintendent and to law enforcement where appropriate and as required by the Code of Virginia and School Board Policy 5-37.

  6. Assistance of Law Enforcement Agency

    The principal or his/her designee may request the assistance of a law enforcement officer to:

    1. search any area of the school premises, any student, or any motor vehicle on school premises;
    2. conduct a K-9 drug sniff of school property, after obtaining prior approval of the Superintendent or his/her designee;
    3. identify or dispose of anything found in the course of a search conducted in accord with this regulation; or
    4. assist in any other situation in which law enforcement assistance is necessary.

    Where law enforcement officers respond to such a request, school employees shall assist or otherwise participate at the request of the law enforcement officer. Searches by law enforcement officers are governed by the legal standard of probable cause. The decision as to whether there is sufficient probable cause to justify a search is fact specific and solely within the discretion of law enforcement officers. The principal or his/her designee will refer to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Virginia Beach Police Department and the School Board when requesting police assistance.

  7. Use of Metal Detectors (Magnetometer)

    Weapons of any nature on school property or at school functions are prohibited by school policy and state law. The unauthorized presence of weapons is inherently dangerous to all persons in the school setting. The Administrator is authorized to use stationary or mobile metal detectors to conduct searches of any or all persons to identify illegal weapons or other prohibited materials. In accordance with Regulations 3-64.1 and 5-36.4 students will be given notice of the use of metal detectors and will be required to submit to a screening for metal as a condition of entering or continuing attendance at school or a school sponsored event. Failure to submit to a metal detector check by authorized school personnel may be considered grounds for disciplinary action. The Superintendent has developed procedures for implementing metal detector searches in accordance with law and these procedures appear at Regulation 3-64.1.

Editor's Note

See School Board Policy 5-37 and Division Regulation 5-37.1 for reporting to law enforcement personnel.
See Memorandum of Understanding between the Virginia Beach Police Department and the School Board 5/17/01.
See Division Regulation 3-64.1 Security of Buildings and Grounds; Use of Metal Detectors (Magnetometers) and Division Regulation 5-36.4 Weapons/Explosives/Fireworks.

N.J. v T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985).

Code of Virginia, 1950 as amended, § 22.1-279.7.

School Searches: The Basics.

The Virginia School Search Resource Guide (VDOE October 2000)

Vernonia School District 47 J v. Action, 515 U.S. 646 (1995)

DesRoches by DesRoches v. Caprio, 974 F. Supp. 542 (E.D.Va 1997)

Division Regulation 3-64.1
Division Regulation 5-36.4
School Board Policy 5-37
Division Regulation 5-37.1

Approved by Superintendent: July 16, 1991
Revised by Superintendent: September 15, 1992
Revised by Superintendent: September 21, 1993 (Effective August 14, 1993)
Adopted by School Board: May 19, 1998
Revised by School Board: March 6, 2000
Amended by School Board: October 9, 2001