New Mexico - Student Searches: Program Requirements

Program Requirement
Policy Type: 

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

New Mexico Administrative Code Enforcing Rules of Conduct

B. Search and seizure: School property assigned to a student and a students person or property while under the authority of the public schools are subject to search, and items found are subject to seizure, in accordance with the requirements below.

  • (1) Notice of search policy. Students shall be given reasonable notice, through distribution of written policies or otherwise, of each school's policy on searches at the beginning of each school year or upon admission for students entering during the school year.
  • (2) Who may search. Certified school personnel, school security personnel and school bus drivers are "authorized persons" to conduct searches when a search is permissible as set forth below. An authorized person who is conducting a search may request the assistance of some other person(s), who upon consent become(s) an authorized person for the purpose of that search only.
  • (3) When search permissible. Unless local school board policy provides otherwise, an authorized person may conduct a search when (s)he has a reasonable suspicion that a crime or other breach of disciplinary rules is occurring or has occurred. An administrative authority may direct or conduct a search under the same conditions and also when (s)he has reasonable cause to believe that a search is necessary to help maintain school discipline.
  • (4) Conduct of searches; witnesses. The following requirements govern the conduct of permissible searches by authorized persons:
    • (a) School property, including lockers and school buses, may be searched with or without students present unless a local school board or administrative authority provides otherwise. When students are not present for locker searches, another authorized person shall serve as a witness whenever possible. Locks furnished by students should not be destroyed unless a student refuses to open one or circumstances otherwise render such action necessary in the judgment of the administrative authority.
    • (b) Student vehicles when on campus or otherwise under school control and students' personal effects which are not within their immediate physical possession may be searched in accordance with the requirements for locker searches.
    • (c) Physical searches of a students person may be conducted only by an authorized person who is of the same sex as the student, and except when circumstances render it impossible may be conducted only in the presence of another authorized person of the same sex. The extent of the search must be reasonably related to the infraction, and the search must not be excessively intrusive in light of the student's age and sex, and the nature of the infraction.
  • (5) Seizure of items: Illegal items, legal items which threaten the safety or security of others and items which are used to disrupt or interfere with the educational process may be seized by authorized persons. Seized items shall be released to appropriate authorities or a student's parent or returned to the student when and if the administrative authority deems appropriate.
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