BCSD Random School and Classroom Search Program

In an effort to promote a safe, drug and weapon-free learning environment, random and suspicionless school searches may be conducted by school administration and the Office of Security and Emergency Management Team. Random school searches are unannounced, suspicionless searches conducted to serve as a deterrent in the interest of maintaining safe, weapons-free schools. 

The searches will be conducted in a fair, consistent, systematic, nonselective manner in accordance with the predetermined formula. The random selection of the classrooms and students searched will be conducted by a Berkeley County School District employee who is unaffiliated with the subject school and the BCSD Security and Emergency Management Team. Searches will be determined using an online random number generator and random number classroom assignment program. 

Random school searches may include classrooms, entryways, lockers, buses, and parking lots.   

Frequently Asked Questions: Roles & Responsibility

NOTE: These frequently asked questions will be regularly updated as new questions and topics are brought to our attention. If you have a question that is not answered here in the FAQs, please contact us: officeofcommunications@bcsdschools.net.  

Why are these searches conducted?

Safety and security is our number one priority here at BCSD. As safety is never satisfied, we continue to expand our security measures to ensure that our campuses and school-sponsored activities remain safe environments for our students, staff, and community members. Random, unannounced, suspicionless searches serve as a deterrent and are one tool to assist us in our efforts to maintain safe and weapons-free schools.  

What is the primary focus of the search?

The primary focus of the search program is to identify weapons (firearms, knives, box cutters, mace, etc.); however, if other contraband is found, the item(s) shall be seized.  

Will all schools be subject to this search program?

Elementary schools are NOT included in the random search program. The primary focus will be on our high schools; however, these searches may also be conducted in middle schools. 

Are random searches in schools legal?

While students in schools maintain their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches, courts have upheld random, suspicionless searches  for the purpose of maintaining a safe learning environment. 

Who is responsible for coordinating the random searches? 

The Security and Emergency Management Team is responsible for coordinating the random selection process, search locations, and scheduling of the random searches.  

Who will conduct these searches?  

The Security and Emergency Management Team is responsible for conducting the search of students, property, and classrooms. Random searches are NOT administered by law enforcement officers. 

What are the training requirements for this program?

All Security and Emergency Management Team members, school administrators, and other staff involved in the random school search program will adhere to BCSD policies and procedures. Individuals conducting the searches have received training in Metal Detector Wand Operations and Proper Techniques for Searching. 

Will searches be announced ahead of time?

The effectiveness of the random search program will be largely based on the ability of the school/district to keep searches truly random (both in scope and schedule). Students need to be aware that the program is in place and that they may be subject to search at any time. However, students will not know when/where searches will be held throughout the year.

Will all students experience a disruption to the instructional day during the time searches are conducted?

No. For the safety and privacy of all individuals, school administrators will place the school on modified lockdown status in which students and staff will be instructed to remain in class and there will be no class exchange. However, classroom instruction will continue. Students must remain in class unless escorted. At no time will students be allowed to transit through the search area. 

Will students in a classroom randomly targeted for search be informed that a search will begin?

Yes. Upon arrival to the classroom to be searched, a school administrator and a Security and Emergency Management Team member will address students in the classroom, explaining the purpose of the search, the expectations for student behavior, and the methods in which the search will be conducted. Students will be instructed that no cellphones or electronic devices may be used during this process and to refrain from reaching for or grabbing items.

Will students be able to exit the classroom randomly targeted for search with their personal belongings?

No. Students will be instructed to leave all personal belongings at their desk and to exit the classroom to the designated pre-search, student area.

How will the search be conducted and how will students be expected to participate?

Students will be escorted one at a time into the classroom randomly selected for search. Security and Emergency Management personnel will then use a handheld metal detector to wand the student. The student will then be escorted to their belongings. A search of the student’s belongings will be conducted by Security and Emergency Management personnel or school administrators in the student’s presence. After the student’s property has been searched, the student will then be escorted to a post-search student area.  

Will metal detectors be utilized during the search?

Yes. Security and Emergency Management personnel will utilize handheld metal detectors to wand students, one at a time, in the classroom randomly targeted for search. 

What action will be taken if a metal detector alerts searchers to the potential presence of metallic objects? Will searches include pat-downs?

Should an alert of potential metallic objects be observed by the person operating the metal detector, the student being wanded will be asked to verify they have removed all items. A second scan will then be performed on the student. If the wand operator continues to receive an alert, the student will be given the opportunity to remove any other items from their person. If the student refuses to remove items,if the wand operator is unable to immediately determine the cause of the alert, or if the alert is in an area of their person that could reasonably conceal contraband, the Security and Emergency Management Team member will notify the school administrator.

A simple pat-down will only be conducted if necessary. For example, if a metal detector alerts to an unidentified metal item, a pat-down may be necessary to identify the item. Should this occur, the student will be escorted to a private area. Pat-downs will only be conducted by a school official of the same gender as the student. A witness will be present during the pat-down.   

Will school administrators be present during the search?

Yes. At least one school administrator (or designee) must remain present during random searches.

Will school resource officers (SROs) participate in the searches?

No. While SROs are responsible for providing safety and addressing violations of law that may arise, SROs shall not participate in, direct, or instruct the search personnel or school staff concerning the search. SROs maintain the authority to pursue any students that may run from the search location. 

Can my child refuse to submit to a random school search?

No. Students who do not comply with a random search will be subjected to school discipline just as if they have violated other school procedures. Pursuant to Section 59-63-1110, South Carolina Code of Laws, any person entering the premises of a school in this state shall be deemed to have consented to a reasonable search of his/her person and effects.

Are school lockers, desks, and electronic devices included in random searches?

School lockers, desks, and district-owned electronic devices may be searched under this program. As addressed in Board policy,lockers, desks, and BCSD-owned electronic devices are the property of the school district and are subject to search. 

If a student is found to be in possession of contraband during the search, will they be disciplined and/or charged?

Yes. If a student is found with an item that is a violation of BCSD policy, the student will face disciplinary action pursuant to Board policy. If the contraband also constitutes a violation of the law, the item will be immediately turned over to law enforcement. Law enforcement will determine charges related to the possession of contraband. 

Will a student's record reflect that he/she was searched?

No. However, if contraband is found on a student, that information is subject to placement in a student record.

Will I be informed that my child was searched as a part of this program?

Yes. At the conclusion of the search, the students will be returned to their classroom and the Security and Emergency Management Team and the school administrator will address the class.  During this time, the students will be provided a letter referencing the district’s search program.  

What if my child has school/district authorization to carry medication on their person or in their belongings?

School nurses will verify if any students are authorized  to possess medication. If approved, the medication will be turned back over to the student; however, if not, the medication will be turned over to an administrator for proper processing. All other medications (over-the-counter, prescription, etc.) found will be seized by the Security and Emergency Management Team and turned over to an administrator at the conclusion of the search.  

Will special consideration be provided for students with special needs?

Administrators and school staff are accustomed to working with and accommodating students who have special needs. If you have specific questions, please contact the Security and Emergency Management Department.