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Tuolumne COE |  BP  5145.12  Students

Search And Seizure   

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As necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of students and staff, school officials may search students, their property and/or County Office property under their control, and may seize illegal, unsafe and prohibited items. The Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office requires that discretion, good judgment and common sense be exercised in all cases of search and seizure.

Individual Searches

School officials may search individual students, their property and County Office property under their control, when there is a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that the student is violating the law, County Office policy, administrative regulation, or other rules of the County Office or the school/program site.

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 County Office employees.

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

(cf. 5145.11 - Questioning and Apprehension)

Student Lockers/Desks

The principal/program administrator or designee may conduct a general inspection of school/program site properties that are within the control of students, such as desks, on a regular, announced basis, with students standing by their assigned desks. Any items contained in a desk shall be considered to be the property of the student to whom the desk was assigned.

Because desks are under the joint control of the student and the County Office, school officials shall have the right and ability to open and inspect any school/program site locker or desk without student permission or prior notice when they have reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence of illegal possessions or activities or when odors, smoke, fire and/or other threats to health, welfare or safety emanate from the locker or desk.

Use of Drug-Detection Dogs

In an effort to keep the schools free of drugs, the County Office may use specially trained nonaggressive dogs to sniff out and alert staff to the presence of substances prohibited by law or County Office policy. The dogs may sniff the air around lockers, desks, or vehicles on County Office property or at County Office-sponsored events as long as they are not allowed to sniff within the close proximity of any students.

(cf. 5131.6 - Alcohol and Other Drugs)

Legal Reference:


32280-32288 School safety plans

35160 Authority of governing boards

35160.1 Broad authority of school districts

49050-49051 Searches by school employees

49330-49334 Injurious objects


626.9 Firearms

626.10 Dirks, daggers, knives or razor; bringing into or possession of upon or within public school ground; exception


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

O'Connor v. Ortega, (1987) 107 S.Ct. 1492

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:


California Attorney General's Office:

CDE, Safe Schools and Violence Prevention Office: spbranch/safety


adopted: January 28, 2008 Sonora, California