Despite popular belief, teachers and staff do have the right to search your belongings without permission. The truth is that there is no loophole or mandatory rule the school has to follow in order to access your phone. With reasonable suspicion, the school is permitted to search students’ phones, backpacks, cars, and any other possessions that they feel might be violating a school code or other district policy.
The school’s right to do this stems from California Ed Code 49050 which states that, “School officials may search any individual student, his or her property, or district property under his or her control when there is reasonable suspicion.”
This California Ed Code states that the administration has the right to search any students’ belongings as long as there is a possible threat or danger. The reasonable suspicion aspect of the Ed Code means that the administration can search someone if he or she is given a valid reason to suspect danger. For example, another student or teacher may bring up an issue, and the administration would have to decide whether or not that issue is serious enough to act on.
In such a circumstance that the school does decide to search a student, they have the full authority to do so.
“As long as we[the administrators] enter a search with reasonable suspicion, it’s okay,” Assistant Principal William Egan said. “If we feel that they are breaking a school rule, it’s enough.”
It is rare when the school has to search a student’s phone which may be why some students have a hard time believing it is actually possible, but any belief that a student has violated the law, a board policy, an administrative regulation or some other kind of school or district rule, can result in the student’s possessions being searched.
This may seem intrusive to students, but to the administration this is an important aspect of keeping a safe environment. When bullying or a cheating scandal arises, it is important for the school to search students’ phones or other electronics quickly in order to control the situation before it becomes out of hand.
The school’s policy of searching possessions is only to establish safety and not to intrude on a student’s privacy. The administration respects every students’ desires to not be searched and tries to maintain fourth amendment rights that protect students from search and seizure, but, in the end, when it is a matter of safety or cheating, the school will act.