Outline of the state of District of Columbia
District of Columbia
Authorized with comprehensive student protections

Student Searches

Student Searches

State law authorizes districts to adopt policies or rules addressing search and seizure that include comprehensive student protections.

District of Columbia Municipal Regulations 2401 Student Bill of Rights

2401.13 Principals, assistant principals, school security personnel and other designated individuals may conduct, or cause to be conducted, such searches of students as are reasonable to maintain the security, discipline and educational atmosphere of a school building, event or program, in accordance with the provisions § 2404.

Policy Type

District of Columbia Municipal Regulations 2404 Search Procedures

2404.1 Individualized searches shall be undertaken if there exists reasonable suspicion that there has been a violation of the student discipline rules (chapter 25 of this title) or the criminal laws of the District of Columbia or the federal government, or, if such a search is part of the overall effort to maintain the security and safety of D.C. Public Schools, in accordance with the provisions this chapter.

2404.2 Reasonable suspicion shall be premised upon any one or more of the following circumstances: (a) Observation of contraband or other prohibited property by school officials or conduct suggesting the presence of contraband or other prohibited property; (b) General, suspicious conduct, such as a student's being in a restricted area without approval; (c) Observation of suspicious bulges in a student's clothing or personal property; (d) A tip from an informant, either known to the school official to be reliable or, if anonymous, possessing some attribute, knowledge, or relationship to the school, student or community that gives credence to the information; or (e) Observation of furtive or evasive behavior to suggest either concealment of a weapon, contraband, or stolen property or perpetration of an offense violative of school regulations or laws.

2404.3 The student's age, history, and school record shall be considered in the context of the nature of the infraction, in deciding whether to undertake a search.

2404.4 Random searches of students, and lockers shall be undertaken, in a manner which is consistent with the overall need to maintain the safety and security of D.C. Public Schools. The searches shall occur under the auspices of the D.C. Public Schools Office of Safety and Security and, where appropriate, the Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Public Schools Legal Services Branch, unless circumstances compel immediate action to avoid imminent danger to self or others.

2404.5 Except where otherwise necessary to avoid immediate harm or immediate disposal of contraband, searches of students shall occur in the privacy of an office or unoccupied room.

2404.6 Except where otherwise necessary to avoid immediate harm or immediate disposal of contraband, all searches shall be made in the presence of a third party.

2404.7 Under no circumstances are strip searches to be conducted by school system personnel. In the event that there is reason to believe that such a search would uncover evidence of criminal conduct, the Metropolitan Police Department shall be notified.

2404.8 Subsequent to any search being conducted, whether based on individualized suspicion or at random, the principal shall prepare a written report detailing the scope of the search and circumstances giving rise to the search. Copies of this report shall be filed with the appropriate assistant superintendent, the Division of Safety and Security, and the Legal Services Branch.

2404.9 Magnetometers and other metal-detecting devices may be utilized by school officials at entrances to schools when deemed appropriate by the Superintendent of Schools to be necessary to deter weapons being brought onto school grounds; provided, that such devices are regularly checked and calibrated.

2404.10 All lockers, desks, and other property provided by D.C. Public Schools to students for the storage of personal belongings and school supplies, are the property of the D.C. Public Schools and shall remain under the jurisdiction of D.C. Public Schools. The use of these items by students is a privilege. School officials retain the right to open and search lockers, desks and such other school property and the contents thereof, with or without the presence of the student(s) at any time to enforce school policies, rules, or regulations, or for any other reason.

2404.11 Students shall assume full responsibility for the contents of lockers and shall lock all lockers, or locks, after use. No student shall place, keep or store, or allow to be placed kept or stored, in his or her locker, desk, or other D.C. Public School property, any firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous object, the use or possession of which is prohibited by the rules of the Board of Education.

2404.12 Principals shall provide notification to students, and their parents on a regular basis, including at the beginning of each school year, of the Board’s policy regarding searches.

Policy Type