Students Searched at School

A warrant or probable cause is not required for public school officials to search public school students or their possessions; only reasonable grounds for the search are necessary. (See MCL380.1306.) A school search will be held to be reasonable only if:

  • The search offers a moderate chance of finding evidence of wrongdoing;
  • The measures adopted to carry out the search are reasonably related to the objectives of the search; and
  • The search is not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and nature of the infraction.


Drug Dogs. The use of canines (drug dogs) requires the School Principal, Superintendent, or their agent, have reasonable suspicion that illegal drugs or devices may be present in a school. Drug dogs must be used only to determine the presence of drugs in locker areas and other places in the school where such substances could be concealed. Drug dogs must be accompanied by law enforcement authorities or other certified organizations and are not to be used to search students unless either a warrant or parental permission has been obtained.

Also important to note is drug testing of student athletes and those that voluntarily participate in extracurricular school activities is permissible without a warrant or probable cause.

When Police Are Called

While most school districts have some discretion as to what violations of the student code of conduct warrant involvement of law enforcement, Michigan Law (Public Act 102 of 1999, Statewide School Safety Information Police and School Crime Reports, MCL 380.1308) requires school officials to call the police for all of the following incidents:

  • Armed Student or Hostage

  • Suspected Armed Student

  • Weapons on School Property

  • Death of Homicide

  • Drive-by-Shooting

  • Physical Assaults (Fights)

  • Bomb Threats

  • Explosions

  • Arson

  • Sexual Assault (Criminal Sexual Conduct)

  • Robbery or Extortion

  • Unauthorized Removal of a Student

  • Threat of Suicide

  • Suicide Attempt

  • Larceny (Theft)

  • Intruders (Trespassing)

  • Illegal Drug Use or Overdose

  • Drug Possession or Drug Sale

  • Vandalism or Destruction of Property

  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Tobacco products

  • Bus Incident

  • Bus Accident

Trouble at School Leads to Trouble in Court (and vice versa)

Thus, if police are called to the school, you should anticipate that formal charges will be filed against your son or daughter, in addition to the administrative disciplinary action taken by the school. Also, if the police department must notify the school officials if it receives information of any alleged crime occurring on school property or within 1,000 feet of the school property, or if the alleged victim or perpetrator was a student or staff member of the school. (See MCL 380.1308(4)). Therefore, even if the alleged misconduct occurs outside of school, the student will likely end up dealing with the court and the school administrators. Depending on the nature of the offense, a student found to have committed the alleged criminal conduct may be subject to formal suspension or permanent expulsion.

Where We Serve Clients

The offices of Kelly & Kelly, P.C. is located in Northville, Michigan. Although this is our physical location, we represent clients all throughout Ann Arbor, Novi, Livonia, Wayne County, Oakland County, Macomb County, and many other locations throughout the State of Michigan. Our law firm is very familiar with the various court systems across the State.

Michael Kelly

Michele Kelly

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