Welfare - Civil and Legal Rights and Responsibilities

Search and Seizure - Guidelines for the Use of Walk-Through and Hand-Held Scanning Devices

Safety in schools and the preservation of an atmosphere which is conducive to education is of vital importance to the supervision and governance of the St. Louis Public Schools. Generally, a student will not be searched unless there is a reasonable individualized suspicion that the particular student possesses contraband. However, in certain situations, the use of a walk-through and/or hand-held scanning device is justified in a school setting for the purpose of preventing students from bringing weapons into the school. Weapons, when brought into the school, present a severe threat to the safety of students and staff. Scanning devices can aid in controlling the number of weapons which are brought into the schools. Prior to employing scanning devices in a school, district personnel must follow these procedures.

1. The school principal must submit to the superintendent a written report detailing incidents of weapons' use and/or possession in the school in which the use of a scanning device is proposed. If there have been no incidents of weapons' use and/or possession in the school, the principal must submit a written report to the superintendent which indicates why the principal believes that students are likely to use and/or possess weapons in the school.

2. The superintendent must find that incidents of weapons' use and/or possession have occurred or are likely to occur in the school in which the use of a scanning device is proposed. The use of a scanning device must be approved by the superintendent prior to its use in a particular school.

3. Students enrolled in schools where scanning devices are used must be notified in writing, at least two days prior to the beginning of the use of scanning devices, that such devices will be used to search students.

4. All students entering the school are subject to search by walk-through and/or hand-held scanning devices although the individual conducting the search may choose to limit the search by any random formula. For example, if the lines become too long, the individual conducting the search may decide to search every second or third student. However, particular students cannot be individually selected to be searched unless there is a reasonable individualized suspicion to believe that the specified student is in possession of a weapon or other contraband.

5. The individual who conducts the scanning device search must approach the student and explain the scanning process. The student must be requested to place any bags and parcels on a table and to remove all metal objects from pockets.

6. Hand-held scanning devices may be used either initially, or if walk-through scanning devices are activated. In using hand-held scanning devices, the scanning begins at the toes and continues up to the head without actually touching the body. Bags and parcels are also scanned.

7. When a student's bag or parcel activates the scanning device, the individual conducting the search must request the student to open the container in question so that the individual can look for weapons.

8. If a student's body activates the hand-held scanning device, the individual conducting the search first repeats the request to remove metal objects. A second scan is then conducted and if the device is activated again, the individual conducting the search escorts the student to a private area where a more thorough search is conducted. A second school official must be present when the student is escorted to and searched in the private area. Prior to a private search, the individual conducting the search must ask the student for a third time to remove any metal objects. A pat-down search for the purpose of locating the item which triggered the scanning device may then begin near the place where the device was activated. If the individual conducting the search feels the object during the pat-down, the student must be given a chance to remove the object before the individual conducting the search removes the object. If such an object, once removed, appears to be the one which activated the device, the search ceases. The search can be continued only if a subsequent scan activates the device. Private searches must be conducted by individuals who are of the same sex as the student who is being searched.

9. In no circumstances shall school employees perform a “strip search” on a student unless a commissioned law enforcement officer is not immediately available and such employee believes a student possesses a weapon, explosive or substance that poses an imminent threat of physical harm to himself, herself or another person. Strip searches may be conducted by, or under the authority of, a commissioned law enforcement officer.

For the purposes of this section, the term “strip search” means the removal or rearrangement of some or all of the clothing of a person so as to permit an inspection of the genitals, buttocks, anus, breasts or under garments of a person, including but not limited to inspections conducted visually, manually or by means of any physical instrument, but shall not include the removal of clothing in order to investigate the potential abuse or neglect of a student; give medical attention to a student; provide health services to a student; or screen a student for medical conditions.

If a student is strip searched by an employee or a commissioned law enforcement officer, the principal shall attempt to notify the student’s parent or guardian as soon as possible.

Legal: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 167.166

Regulation approved: August 30, 1994

Revised: December 07, 1999

Revised: October 12, 2004

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