What Can the School Administration Legally Search?

There has long been difficulty maintaining school safety while honoring civil rights.  As Las Lomas continues to crack down on vaping, some may wonder what admin can legally search and how the rules apply to cell phones, lockers, and your person.

When it comes to cell phones, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the school cannot look through your phone without a search warrant issued by a judge.  The exception to this is if the school deems the situation to be an emergency. The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) defines an emergency as a situation “involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person [that] requires access to the electronic device information.”  

Since your locker is Las Lomas property, the school has the right to search your locker without any “reasonable suspicion.”  The school does, however, need “reasonable suspicion” to search you with your consent.  The school must believe that searching you will reveal evidence of you breaking a school rule or law.  Unfortunately, there’s no exact definition for what “reasonable suspicion” is.

It’s important not only for students to know, but also for staff to know what the parameters of searching are.  As Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “If we are not vigilant in how we administer discipline in our schools, we run the risk of extinguishing the promise of the American dream for millions of California students…”

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