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INVESTIGATIONS

By School Officials

Administrators, teachers, and other appropriately trained personnel may question a student regarding the student’s own conduct or the conduct of other students.  In the context of school discipline, students have no claim to the right not to incriminate themselves.

By Police or Other Authorities

For provisions pertaining to student questioning by law enforcement officials or other lawful authorities, see Policy GRA.

SEARCHES OF STUDENTS

Students shall be free from unreasonable search and seizure by school officials. School officials may search a student's outer clothing, pockets, or property by establishing reasonable cause or securing the student's voluntary consent. Coercion, either express, or implied, such as threatening to contact parents or police, invalidates apparent consent. U.S. Const., Amend. 4; New Jersey v. T.L.O., 105 S.Ct. 733 (1985); Jones v. Latexo ISD, 499 F.Supp. 223 (1980)

A search is reasonable if it meets both of the following criteria:

  1. The action is justified at the inception, i.e., the school official has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will uncover evidence of a rule violation or a criminal violation.\
  2. The scope of the search is reasonably related to the circumstances that justified the search in the first place; i.e., the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and are not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction.

New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985)

Searches of Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices

A TSBVI employee, volunteer or student is prohibited from obtaining, altering, or preventing authorized access to an “electronic communication” while it is in “electronic storage by”:

  1. Intentionally accessing without authorization (i.e. “hacking”) a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided; or
  2. Intentionally exceeding an authorization to access that facility.

Exceptions

This section does not apply to access/search authorized:

  1. By the person or (cell phone service provider providing an electronic communication service);
  2. By a user of that service; or
  3. By sections 18 U.S.C. 2703 (required disclosure of customer communications or records), 2704 (backup preservation), or 2518.

18 U.S.C. 2701(a), (c)

Electronic Communication

“Electronic communication” means any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system that affects interstate or foreign commerce. 18 U.S.C. 2510(12)

Electronic Storage

“Electronic storage” means:

  1. Any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof; and
  2. Any storage of such communication by an electronic communication service for purposes of backup protection of such communication.

18 U.S.C. 2510(17)

Messages that have been sent to a person, but not yet opened, are in temporary, intermediate storage and are considered to be in electronic storage. See Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service, 36 F.3d 457 (5th Cir. 1994). Electronic communications that are opened and stored separately from the provider are considered to be in post-transmission storage, not electronic storage. See Fraser v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 352 F.3d 107 (3d Cir. 2004).

By Law Enforcement

In general, a peace officer may not search a person's cellular telephone or other wireless communications device, pursuant to a lawful arrest of the person, without first obtaining a warrant under Code of Criminal Procedure 18.0215.

A peace officer may search a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device without a warrant if:

  1. The owner or possessor of the telephone or device consents to the search;
  2. The telephone or device is reported stolen by the owner or possessor; or
  3. The officer reasonably believes that:
    1. The telephone or device is in the possession of a fugitive from justice for whom an arrest warrant has been issued for committing a felony offense; or
    2. There exists an immediate life-threatening situation, as defined by Code of Criminal Procedure 18A.201.

Code of Crim. Proc. 18.0215

Random Drug Testing

Whether a particular search is reasonable is judged by balancing the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against the government’s legitimate interests, like public safety.  Thus, the reasonableness of a random student drug-testing policy is determined by balancing the following factors:

  1. The nature of the privacy interest compromised by the drug-testing policy.
  2. The character of the intrusion imposed by the drug-testing policy.
  3. The nature and immediacy of the governmental interests involved and the efficacy of the drug-testing policy for satisfying them.

Vernonia Sch. Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646, 115 S.Ct. 2386 (1995) (upholding a policy requiring urinalysis drug testing as a condition of participating in athletics); Bd. of Educ. of Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, 122 S.Ct. 2559 (2002) (upholding a policy requiring urinalysis drug testing as a condition of participating in competitive extracurricular activities)

STEROID TESTING

The UIL shall adopt rules for the annual administration of a steroid testing program under which high school students participating in an athletic competition sponsored or sanctioned by the league are tested at multiple times throughout the year for the presence of steroids.

Results of such steroid tests are confidential and, unless required by court order, may be disclosed only to the student and the student’s parent and the activity directors, principal, and assistant principals of the school attended by the student.

Education Code 33.091(d)–(e)

SEARCHES OF PLACES

Students have full responsibility for the security of their lockers, backpacks and purses.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that lockers are locked and that the keys and combinations are not given to others. Students shall not place, keep, or maintain any article or material that is forbidden by law or School policy in lockers backpacks, purses or residences.

School officials may search lockers, backpacks, purses and residences on campus or vehicles parked on school property, if there is reasonable cause to believe that they contain articles or materials prohibited by law or School policy. Students shall be responsible for any prohibited items found in their lockers, backpacks, purses and residences on campus or in vehicles parked on School property.

USE OF TRAINED DOGS

TSBVI may use specially trained non-aggressive dogs to sniff out and alert officials to the current presence of concealed prohibited items, illicit substances defined in Policy FNCF, and alcohol.  This program is implemented in response to drug and alcohol related problems in the School, with the objective of maintaining a safe school environment conducive to education.

Such visits to schools and residences, if made, must be approved in advance by the Superintendent and shall be unannounced.  The dogs shall be used to sniff vacant classrooms, vacant dormitory rooms, vacant common areas, the areas around student lockers, and the areas around vehicles parked on school property.  The dogs shall not be used with students.  If a dog alerts to a locker or an item in a classroom, it may be searched by school officials. 

Trained dogs' sniffing of lockers does not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment.  The alert of a trained dog to a locker provides reasonable cause for a search of the locker only if the dog is reasonably reliable in indicating that contraband is currently present.  The School need not show that the dog is infallible or even that it is reliable enough to show probably cause.  

Trained dogs’ sniffing students does constitute a search and requires individualized reasonable suspicion before initiating that search.

Horton v. Goose Creek ISD, 690 F.2d. 470 (5th Cir. 1982)

NOTICE

Prior to the implementation of the use of trained dogs and at the beginning of each school year, TSBVI shall inform students and parents of the School’s policy on searches, as outlined above, and shall specifically notify students that:

  1. Lockers may be sniffed by trained dogs at any time.
  2. Classrooms, residences and other common areas may be sniffed by trained dogs at any time when students are not present.
  3. If contraband of any kind is found, the possessing student shall be subject to appropriate legal and disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

PARENT NOTIFICATION

The student’s parent or guardian shall be notified if any prohibited articles or materials are found in a student’s locker, property or on the student’s person, as a result of a search conducted in accordance with this policy.

Adopted:         4/7/78

Amended:       1/16/81, 1/14/83, 9/27/90, 11/17/95, 11/15/96, 3/26/04, 11/15/19

Reviewed: