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Subject: Police Relations
Classification: Search & Seizure Evidence of Violations or Infractions
Date Issued: January, 2000
Policy Number: 109.8
Issued by: Office For School Safety
Supersedes: January, 1993
Review Before: As needed


A. Reasonable Suspicion

Searches of individual students, or the possessions in their immediate control, (e.g. handbags, book bags) shall only be conducted when there is reasonable suspicion that: 1. there has been a criminal infraction or the violation of a school policy or rule governing behavior or discipline, and

2. the individual who is the subject of the search participated in the infraction or violation, and

3. evidence of the infraction or violation, or proceeds there from, is in the possession of the student in the location to be searched.

B. Scope of Search Except in situations when there is an immediate threat to the health, safety or welfare of the student or others, the scope of a search should be limited to the least intrusive means available. Escalation of the scope or intensity of the search may occur only when the seriousness of the infraction or violation, and the information supporting the investigation (see "Reasonable Suspicion" above) warrant. Metal detectors may be used for individual searches, and X-ray scanners may be used for package, parcel, and other property searches

1. Strip Search

Strip search of any pupil by any school employee is forbidden. A strip search is defined for the purposes of this policy as:

a. any procedure that would expose a pupilís bare skin or undergarments in the areas above the knees and below the neck;

b. any procedure that would result in a school employee reaching under a pupilís clothing to come into contact with the pupilís bare skin or undergarments as previously described in this section.

c. the following examples do not fall within the definition of a strip search:

(1) removal of an outer coat, sweater or jacket,

(2) the loosening of a belt or sash.

(3) removal of shoes or below the knee socks.

When school authorities have exhausted all reasonable alternatives and still have reason to believe that contraband or proceeds of a crime are upon the pupilís person, City of Philadelphia police may be called and presented with the facts. School personnel shall then leave the issue of any further investigation of the pupilís person to the discretion of the police and shall not urge any particular course of conduct by the police. Cooperation by providing at police request a private area to conduct any further investigation is authorized, but school personnel shall refrain from any further physical or verbal participation, including coercion of the pupil to cooperate with the police.
2. Group or General Searches The law requires that there be reasonable suspicion (as defined in Section "A" above) as to any person or persons to be searched. Therefore, except for administrative/entry searches described in this policy, group or general searches are generally improper. When school personnel believe that a group search is necessary, the matter should be referred to the City of Philadelphia Police Department or the School Districtís Law Department shall be consulted prior to such a search. Section II which follows presents the exception for administrative/entry searches. 3. School Lockers and Desks
    1. Every pupil is to sign Form H-33, Studentís Locker Record, when assigned a locker, and/or
    2. Every pupil is to be given a copy of the current student handbook which sets out the policies that are presented below.
(1) You have been loaned a locker and lock for the current school term. You are advised that both the locker and lock are the property of the School District of Philadelphia. In the event your lock is lost, you are to notify the school office immediately. Under no circumstances are you to switch or replace the schoolís lock with your own. The school has retained a copy of your locker number and the combination to your lock.

(2) no contraband (drugs, alcohol, weapons, cigarettes or proceeds from criminal conduct) is to be kept in any school locker or other assigned storage area (including desks, lab, gym, or shop compartments).

(3) the locker is loaned to you only and is not to be shared with other students or outsiders (unless you have permission from the locker committee). Be sure your locker is locked when you leave it.

(4) the school administration reserves the right to inspect lockers, desks and other storage areas and their contents to protect the health, safety and general welfare of everyone in the school community.

(5) money or other valuables should not be left in school lockers, desks or storage areas. Neither the school nor the School District of Philadelphia is responsible for loss of property stored in your school locker or other storage compartments.

c. The following notice is to be posted in the locker rooms or areas, and/or shall be included in the student handbook: (1) Lockers are the property of the School District of Philadelphia. As a condition of providing student lockers, the School District reserves the right to enter lockers at all times, without the permission of the pupil to whom the locker is assigned. Students who use school lockers implicitly agree to these terms of use.

(2) It is further agreed by pupils that entry into lockers by the School District of Philadelphia is a lawful search, and any items found therein which are unlawful to possess, or which have been used contrary to any school rule or policy, may be confiscated.

d. Before opening the locker for inspection, the principal or other authorized school administrator may designate three persons to be present at the inspection. A written record shall be kept of each locker inspection. The record is to include the date, time, reason(s) for the inspection, persons present, objects found and their disposition. At the discretion of the principal or other school administrator the student to whom the locker is assigned shall be notified of the search and may be present during the inspection.

e. Whenever the inspection of a pupil's locker is based on a reasonable suspicion that the contents may create an emergency, or pose a threat to the health, safety and welfare of persons in the school, the principal or other authorized school administrator may open the locker immediately.

f. Student shall be notified at the beginning of each school year that:

Desks are the property of the School District of Philadelphia. The School District of Philadelphia reserves the right to enter studentsí desks at all times, without the permission of the student(s) assigned to the desk.

Use of the storage portions of desks by students is with this implied agreement. It is further agreed by pupils that entry into desks by the School District of Philadelphia is a lawful search, and any items found therein which are unlawful to possess or which have been used contrary to school rule or policy, may be confiscated.

g. Questions and concerns regarding search and seizures are to be referred promptly to the Law Department.

    1. The information presented in this section must be reviewed periodically during the studentsí advisory periods.


A. Purpose.

The purpose of the Administrative Entry Search program is to prevent weapons and illegal contraband from being brought into the schools.

It is designed to deter violence and serious physical injury in schools by inhibiting the access of persons in possession of weapons and/or other contraband into school facilities.

B. Procedures

Any individual who enters a School District of Philadelphia facility or program is subject to an administrative entry search. An administrative entry search requires all persons subject to the search to be scanned with metal detectors and to have all packages (e.g. school books/bags, parcels, and handbag/purses) checked by an x-ray scanner prior to entering the building.

The search procedure may include all individuals entering a school building during the regular school day. The procedure will not be used to single out any particular individuals, or any profile for a search.

Any person who refuses to cooperate in the scanning process will be referred promptly to the principal or his/her designee for appropriate action.

Walk-through Metal Detectors and X-Ray Scanners will be used whenever available. In schools where such equipment is not available, or where such equipment is inoperable or inadequate to a particular occasion hand held wands may be used.

1. Training Prior to the initiation of the walk thru metal scanning program all personnel who will be conducting the scans will be trained in the calibration, operation, and maintenance of the equipment. 2. Public Notice

The following notices shall posted:

a. At each entrance where administrative searches are conducted: Weapons are not permitted in Philadelphia Board of Education facilities. All persons entering this building or a program in this building may be required to submit to a metal detector scan, and a personal search if necessary, to ensure that weapons are not brought into this building. Bags and parcels also may be searched by means of metal detecting devices, by hand, or otherwise. b. At Search Stations: To avoid damage, floppy disks, computer disks, and cassette tapes should be removed from bags, briefcases or other packages prior to scanning.

Refusal to cooperate with the search will result in the denial of entry or disciplinary action.

3. Supervision

The principal or other authorized school administrator (e.g. Assistant Principal, Dean of Students.) is to be present to observe the scanning procedure. He or she will ensure the proper coordination of all scanning procedures and any follow-up activities which may be necessary.

4. Scanning Procedures

a. The manual for each piece of equipment is issued to each site administrator with suggested settings. The basic procedure for start-up is as follows: (1). Turn on the power to the metal detector.

(2). Select an appropriate detection program.

(3). Set the sensitivity to detect your test object.

(4). Test the unit daily to verify proper operation.

b. At school sites, administrative entry search procedures will be operational each day prior to the Breakfast Program.

The team will be responsible for setting up the required equipment at the chosen scanning site including:

(1) Walk through Detectors and X-Ray scanners,

(2) Desks and Trays,

(3) Stanchions and Chairs,

(4) Receipts for Contraband, and

(5) Public Notices

c. One School Police Officer will maintain a logbook for recording accurate information concerning each dayís activities. Another School Police Officer will be assigned as an alternate to maintain the logbook in case of the absence of the Log Officer. The log book shall specify the persons involved in the search procedures, their assignments, the names of any students, staff or visitors found with contraband, a description of the contraband, the name of the police officer to whom it was turned over, and the property receipt number.

d. Team members will be responsible for referring students and contraband to the Philadelphia Police when necessary.

e. At school facilities where administrative entry searches are conducted, access to the building may be limited to a single secured entrance.

(1). When entering a secured entrance to a school facility:

(a). STUDENTS Ė will be directed to remove all metal object(s) on their person including; (keys, coins, batteries, electronic devices, gum wrappers, etc.), and place them inside of their school bag.

(b). ADULTS/VISITORS Ė will be asked to remove all metal object(s) from their person and place them in a tray that is provided for their convenience.

(2). All packages and parcels will be viewed by the "airport style" x-ray machine. Once the package or parcel is placed in the x-ray machine, the owner of the package will proceed through the metal detector.

(3). When a person walks through the metal detector and the alarm sounds, he/she shall be instructed to remove all metal objects from his/her person (belts, chains, page I cell phone, coins), and shall be instructed to walk through the archway again. If the alarm does not sound the articles which have been removed will be examined and the individual then allowed pass into the secure area.

(4). Persons should never be allowed to enter the secure area until they can walk through the metal detector without sounding the alarm or until some form of secondary search using a hand held metal detector can identify the item causing the alarm.

5. Use of Hand Held Detectors. Wand scanning will be conducted by School Police Officers of the same sex as the individual seeking admission to the building. Efforts shall be made during the scanning process to avoid having the scanning officer or the scanning equipment come into physical contact with the individual being screened.
    1. If the hand held wand activates on a person and the source of the alarm is not apparent (i.e. jewelry, belt etc.) the School Police Officer conducting the scan will direct the individual to remove any remaining metal object(s) from their person and will conduct a second scan.
b. If the detector activates again, the School Police Officer accompanied by an authorized school administrator will escort the individual to a separate and private area (e.g. an office) in order to conduct a non-intrusive frisk/search of the individual.

c. Manual searches will be conducted in instances when an individual has activated the hand held wand. All searches are conducted by School Police Officers in accordance with this policy.

d. Manual or frisk searches may only be conducted by persons of the same sex as the person to be searched.

e. All persons entering a school building, program, or bus, may be searched. However, when necessary (e.g. inclement weather, backlog of persons), the team supervisor may elect not to screen every person. In such cases, the supervisor will determine the number of persons to be screened using one or both of the following alternatives:

(1). screen every 2nd, 4th, or 7th, etc. person seeking entry; and/or

(2). allow a number of persons to enter without being screened; then resume screening all persons as noted above.

    1. Under no circumstances may school officials select a particular individual(s) to be searched, unless there is reasonable suspicion to believe that the individual(s) is in possession of a weapon or other contraband.
6. Refusal to Cooperate Persons who refuse to cooperate with a School Police Officer during a search authorized by this policy will be referred to the principal for appropriate action. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD A STUDENT WHO REFUSES TO COOPERATE BE DENIED ADMISSION TO SCHOOL OR SENT HOME. The principal will initially discuss with the student the reasons behind the scanning program and if the student still refuses to cooperate his/her parents are to be contacted to discuss the scanning program. If a pregnant student does not wish to be searched with the metal detector, she should be sent to the principalís office. The principal will then advise the officer how to proceed. Persons refusing to cooperate with the scanning procedure prior to entry into an optional program, athletic contest or extra-curricular activity will be denied entry by the principal/designee. 7. Discovery of Contraband When an individual is in possession of a weapon or illegal contraband the principal/designee must notify the police. If an arrest is made, the Philadelphia Police will take custody of the contraband.

All property removed from an individual which is not prohibited by Board policy, District policy, or law must be returned to that individual upon completion of the search.