School administrators in Michigan who conduct random locker searches would be backed by state law under a bill that passed the House of Representatives Feb. 3.

The legislation says students should not expect privacy in school lockers and that school administrators have the right to search the contents for items that are illegal or against school policy.

Although many schools already conduct random locker searches, the bill’s supporters say a state law is needed to clarify that they are legal.

“What you’ve got are a number of districts that are curious what the parameters really are when it comes to locker searches,” said House Speaker Chuck Perricone, R-Kalamazoo Township. “They’ve been calling for clarification for a number of years.”

Opponents say the bill, which passed the House 90-13, is not needed and invades students’ privacy.

“Let’s remember that most of our kids do the right thing most of the time,” said Rep. John Hansen, D-Dexter, who voted for the bill after amending it to say that students are allowed to have items in their lockers that are neither illegal nor against school policy. “If we want them to trust us, we have to trust them.”

The bill would require all school districts that have lockers to draft a policy on searches and give a copy to all students and parents. School principals or their designees could then search a locker at any time in accordance with the policy.

The locker search measure is House Bill 5233. At press time, the bill was headed to the state Senate for consideration. n