Juneau school board delays search and seizure policy revision

The Juneau School Board last night (Tuesday) delayed action on an update of the district’s search and seizure and student privacy policies.

District Spokeswoman Kristen Bartlett says the board wants to undertake a more thorough review of the proposed changes, which would clarify how school officials handle searches of student belongings, as well as details regarding consent and parental notification.

One notable change from current policy: Student vehicles parked on school grounds would be subject to the same search regulations as lockers, desks, backpacks and other student possessions.

Courts have given districts a lot of leeway to search student belongings on school grounds in order to protect the health, safety or welfare of the school community.

The update would make clear that any search more intrusive than a simple pat down is to be handled by law enforcement, which must obtain a search warrant.

Current policy says, if possible, parents or guardians should be notified before a search. The update adds that if it’s not possible, they should be notified as soon as possible after the search occurs. It also says parents should be informed of the district’s search and seizure and privacy policies annually, at the beginning of the school year.

Bartlett says the school board will revisit the proposed changes in September.

In other news, Bartlett says board members will wait until after this fall’s city election before deciding what to do about a possible vacancy on the board.

The vacancy would occur if no one steps forward to run a write-in campaign. That’s because only one candidate – Board President Sally Saddler – filed to run for two open seats during the just concluded candidate-filing period.

Official write-in candidates must file a letter of intent with the city clerk’s office at least five days before Election Day, or September 29th.

If no one steps forward to run a write-in campaign, the board will have 30 days after Election Day – October 4th – to fill the vacancy. The person selected will serve until next year’s regular election.