Temporary Removal of Student Property by School Staff

Version Number

2.0

Implementation Date

9/07/2012

Scope

All state schools

Purpose

​Outlines the procedure for state school principals and staff to follow when temporarily removing property from students.

Overview

​This procedure outlines the conditions under which a principal or staff member of a state school has the power to temporarily remove property from a student and outlines the procedures to follow when property is temporarily removed.​

If the property is illegal to possess, likely to threaten the safety or wellbeing of students or staff, or is reasonably suspected to have been used to commit a crime, the principal should retain the property for handing to police.

A principal or staff member does not have the authority to open, examine or otherwise deal with the property without the consent of the student or a parent of the student. For example, a principal or staff member who removes a mobile phone from a student is not authorised to unlock the phone or to read, copy or delete messages stored on the phone.

Under normal circumstances a principal or staff member is not permitted to search student property (e.g. a student’s school bag) unless they have the student’s consent or the consent of their parents. There may, however, be emergency circumstances where it is necessary to search a student’s property without the student’s consent or the consent of the student’s parents (e.g. to access an EpiPen for an anaphylactic emergency). Emergency circumstances may include where the life or welfare of a student or students is at immediate risk.

A principal or staff member does not require the student’s consent to search school property such as lockers or desks being used by the student.

Responsibilities

​Principals: 

  • ensure staff are aware of their powers and responsibilities to temporarily remove property from students 
  • ensure parents and students are:
    • informed of the powers and responsibilities of staff to temporarily remove property from students 
    • aware of the expectations in relation to property students may bring to school.
  • include within their Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students:
    • examples of property that may be temporarily removed 
    • examples of the amount of time certain property may be temporarily removed.

Staff members (including principals):

  • follow appropriate processes regarding:
    • confiscation of property 
    • return of confiscated property 
    • circumstances where confiscated property need not be made available for collection 
    • deciding a reasonable time to make property available for collection.

Students:

  • ensure they do not bring property onto school grounds that:
    • is illegal
    • puts at risk the safety or wellbeing of other students or staff 
    • does not preserve a caring, safe, supportive or productive learning environment
    • does not maintain and foster mutual respect
    • is prohibited according to the school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students.
  • collect their property when advised by staff.

Parents:

  • ensure children do not bring property onto schools grounds that:
    • is illegal to possess
    • puts at risk the safety or wellbeing of other students or staff 
    • does not preserve a caring, safe, supportive or productive learning environment
    • does not maintain and foster mutual respect
    • is prohibited according to the school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students.
  • collect property temporarily removed from their child as soon as possible after they have been notified the property is available for collection.

Process

​Confiscation of property

  • Property may be temporarily removed from a student if the staff member is reasonably satisfied the removal is necessary to:
    • preserve the caring, safe, supportive and productive learning environment of the school
    • maintain and foster mutual respect among staff and students at the school
    • encourage all students to take responsibility for their own behaviour and the consequences of their actions
    • provide for the effective administration of matters about the students of the school
    • ensure compliance with the school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students or any other directive, guideline or policy.

Return of confiscated property

  • Ensure property held by the school is made available for collection within a reasonable time period by the student or, if the student is a child, the principal or staff member may choose to make the property available for collection to the parent only if it is more appropriate to do so, given:
    • its condition, nature or value, and/or
    • to ensure the safety of the student or staff, and/or 
    • for the good order and management, administration and control of the school.
  • Where the child is an independent student it may not be appropriate to make the property available for collection by the student’s parents and the property should be returned to the student.
  • Ensure property made available for collection is in the same condition as when the property was removed.

Circumstances where confiscated property need not be made available for collection

  • If the property is illegal to possess, threatens the safety or wellbeing of students or staff or is reasonably suspected to have been used to commit a crime:
    • notify police about the removal of the property, and
    • if police state that they will come to the school to investigate matters relating to the property, the property need not be made available for collection until they do so, or
  • If the police seize the property under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld), the property need not be made available by the school for collection.
  • If police decide not to seize the property, it must be made available for collection as soon as practicable thereafter. 
  • Where staff have made reasonable efforts to notify the student or the student’s parents that the property is available for collection but has not been able to make contact need not make the property available for collection.
  • Where staff reasonably suspect that the student is not the lawful owner of the property, staff need not make the property available for collection. In this case, staff must make reasonable efforts to ascertain the ownership of the property.

Deciding a reasonable time to make property available for collection

  • Consider, in deciding a reasonable time for making property available for collection:
    • the condition, nature or value of the property
    • the circumstances in which the property was removed
    • the safety of the students from whom the property was removed, other students or staff members​
    • good management, administration and control of the school.

Online Resources

Review Date

30/04/2017
Attribution CC BY

​Staff member
A state school staff member employed by the chief executive at the school.
This includes, but is not limited to:

  • principals 
  • deputy principals 
  • teaching staff 
  • non-teaching staff.

This does not include:

  • chaplains 
  • school-based police officers 
  • school-based youth health nurses 
  • volunteers 
  • youth support coordinators