New Jersey - Student Searches: Program Requirements

Area: 
Program Requirement
Policy Type: 
statute; regulation
Summary: 

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

New Jersey Revised Statutes 18A:37-6.1 Strip, body cavity searches of pupil prohibited.

  1. Any teaching staff member, principal or other educational personnel shall be prohibited from conducting any strip search or body cavity search of a pupil under any circumstances.

New Jersey Revised Statutes 18A:36-19.2. School locker inspection

The principal or other official designated by the local board of education may inspect lockers or other storage facilities provided for use by students so long as students are informed in writing at the beginning of each school year that inspections may occur.


New Jersey Revised Statutes 18A:17-43.3 Designation of school safety specialist.

  1. The superintendent in each school district shall designate a school administrator as a school safety specialist for the district. The school safety specialist shall: be responsible for the supervision and oversight for all school safety and security personnel, policies, and procedures in the school district; ensure that these policies and procedures are in compliance with State law and regulations; and provide the necessary training and resources to school district staff in matters relating to school safety and security. The school safety specialist shall also serve as the school district liaison with local law enforcement and national, State, and community agencies and organizations in matters of school safety and security.

New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:16-6.2 Development and implementation of policies and procedures

(a) School district policies and procedures developed pursuant to this subchapter shall be:

    1. Developed, implemented, and revised, as necessary, in consultation with the county prosecutor and other law enforcement officials as may be designated by the county prosecutor;
    1. Reviewed and approved by the executive county superintendent;
    1. Made available annually to all school staff, students and parents;
    1. Consistent with reporting, notification, and examination procedures of students suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and other drugs pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-4.3; and
    1. Consistent with N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7, as appropriate.

(b) School district policies and procedures shall include the following components:

    1. Designation by the chief school administrator of liaisons to law enforcement agencies and the description of the liaisons' roles and responsibilities;
    1. Specific procedures for and responsibilities of staff in summoning appropriate law enforcement authorities onto school grounds, for the purpose of conducting law enforcement investigations, searches, seizures, or arrests;
    1. Specific procedures and responsibilities of staff for notifying parents in instances of law enforcement interviews involving their children consistent with the following:
      • i. School officials shall not notify the student's parent(s) in instances of suspected child abuse or neglect;
      • ii. School officials shall notify the student's parent(s) when the student is the target of the law enforcement investigation; and
      • iii. In all other instances, school authorities shall permit law enforcement authorities to determine whether or when a student's parent should be contacted;
    1. Specific procedures for and responsibilities of staff in cooperating with arrests made by law enforcement authorities on school grounds;
    1. Specific procedures for and responsibilities of staff in initiating or conducting searches and seizures of students, their property, and their personal effects.
      • i. All searches and seizures conducted by school staff shall comply with the standards prescribed by the United States Supreme Court in New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985).
      • ii. Questions concerning searches conducted by school officials shall be directed to the appropriate county prosecutor.
      • iii. School officials may request that law enforcement authorities assume responsibility for conducting a search or seizure.
      • iv. No school staff member shall impede a law enforcement officer engaged in a lawful search, seizure, or arrest whether pursuant to a warrant or otherwise.
      • v. School staff shall permit law enforcement authorities, upon their arrival, to assume responsibility for conducting a search or seizure.
      • vi. All inspections of lockers, desks, or other objects or personal property on school grounds involving the use of law enforcement drug-detection canines may be undertaken with only the express permission of the county prosecutor or the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice or his or her designee in the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.
      • vii. Questions concerning the legality of a contemplated or ongoing search, seizure, or arrest conducted by a law enforcement officer on school grounds shall be directed to the county prosecutor or in the case of a search, seizure or arrest undertaken by the Division of Criminal Justice's designee in the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, to the assigned assistant attorney general;
    1. The procedures for and responsibilities of staff, with regard to interviews of students suspected of possessing or distributing a controlled dangerous substance, including anabolic steroids, drug paraphernalia or a firearm or other deadly weapon;
    1. Procedures for planning, approving, and conducting undercover school operations.
      • i. The chief school administrator and school principal shall cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the planning and conduct of undercover school operations. The chief school administrator shall approve undercover operations without prior notification to the district board of education.
      • ii. All information concerning requests to undertake an undercover school operation, information supplied by law enforcement authorities to justify the need for and explain a proposed undercover school operation, and all other information concerning an ongoing undercover school operation, including the identity of any undercover officer placed in a school, shall be kept strictly confidential by the chief school administrator and school principal.
      • iii. The chief school administrator and principal shall not divulge information concerning an undercover school operation to any person without the prior express approval of the county prosecutor or designee.
      • iv. The chief school administrator, principal, or any other school staff or district board of education member who may have been informed regarding the existence of the undercover school operation shall immediately communicate to the county prosecutor or designee if he or she subsequently learns of information that suggests the undercover officer's true identity has been revealed, the undercover officer's identity or status as a bona fide member of the school community has been questioned, or the integrity of the undercover school operation has been in any other way compromised;
    1. The procedures for and responsibilities of staff concerning the safe and proper handling of a seized controlled dangerous substance, including anabolic steroids, drug paraphernalia, or a firearm or other deadly weapon, and the prompt delivery of the items to appropriate law enforcement authorities in accordance with this subchapter;
    1. The procedures for and responsibilities of staff in notifying authorities of a suspected violation of laws prohibiting the possession, sale or other distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, including anabolic steroids, drug paraphernalia, or a firearm or other deadly weapon;
    1. Provisions for requesting uniformed police attendance at extracurricular school events;
    1. Provisions for notifying parents as soon as possible whenever a student is arrested for violating a law prohibiting the possession, sale or other distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, including anabolic steroids, drug paraphernalia, or a firearm or other deadly weapon;
    1. Provisions for in-service training of school staff concerning policies and procedures established in this subchapter, and the exchange of information regarding the practices of the school district and law enforcement agencies;
    1. A memorandum of agreement with appropriate law enforcement authorities.
      • i. The memorandum of agreement shall be consistent with the policies and procedures established in this subchapter and shall be consistent with the format and content established by the State Attorney General and the Commissioner.
      • ii. The memorandum of agreement shall define the reciprocal rights and obligations of students, parents, school staff, and law enforcement officials with respect to the possession, distribution, and disposition of controlled dangerous substances, including anabolic steroids, drug paraphernalia, and firearms and other deadly weapons; with respect to the planning and conduct of law enforcement activities and operations occurring on school grounds, including arrests and undercover school operations; and with respect to the participation of law enforcement officials in alcohol or other drug abuse prevention programs.
      • iii. Copies of all memoranda of agreements entered into with law enforcement authorities shall be submitted to and approved by the county prosecutor, executive county superintendent of schools, president of the district board of education, chief school administrator, and chief of the police department or station commander.
    1. An annual process for the chief school administrator and appropriate law enforcement officials to discuss the implementation and need for revising the memorandum of agreement, and to review the effectiveness of policies and procedures implemented pursuant to this subchapter.
      • i. The annual review shall include input from the executive county superintendent, community members, and meeting(s) with the county prosecutor and other law enforcement officials designated by the county prosecutor.
      • ii. The memorandum of agreement may be revised only to include provisions that are in addition to and do not conflict with the policies and procedures established in this subchapter and that are in addition to and do not conflict with the format and content established by the State Attorney General and the Commissioner;
    1. Provisions for contacting the chief executive officer of the involved law enforcement agency, county prosecutor, and/or Division of Criminal Justice, as necessary, to resolve disputes concerning law enforcement activities occurring on school grounds; and
    1. Provisions for directing inquiries or complaints received by school staff regarding interviews, investigations, arrests, or other operations conducted by sworn law enforcement officers to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(c) Nothing in the policies and procedures required under this section shall be construed to prohibit school staff from disclosing information, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:32-7.2 and 7.5(f), if necessary to protect the immediate health or safety of a student or other persons.

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