Schools are to be given formal powers to search students they strongly suspect of having drugs or weapons.
Staff will even be able to use force if the pupil is deemed a potential risk to someone on school grounds.
They're among draft Education Ministry guidelines developed in response to increasing concerns about a lack of guidance on how to handle kids with prohibited items.
They are set to be available to all schools by the end of the school term next month.
A copy obtained by the Herald on Sunday said school staff were not expected to take on the role of emergency services or law enforcement staff.
They should consider the Bill of Rights, which gives Kiwis the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and confiscation of property.
The guidelines are intended as a framework within which school boards can develop a policy appropriate to their community. Many boards are likely to choose "only senior staff to perform searches".
No search should be carried out based on suspicion alone or on a random basis.
They should be done sensitively and with regard to the students' privacy.
Some things staff may "wish" to consider include:
* The location of any search
* Inviting a parent or caregiver to the school
* Providing a support person
* Never instructing a student to remove anything but the outermost layers of clothing
* Carrying out the search away from other kids
* Ensuring more than one staff member is present when a search is carried out
* Calling police if schools deem it necessary.
The guidelines said force should be used only as a last resort.
The New Zealand Drug Detection Agency, the country's biggest drug tester in workplaces and schools, and the Secondary Schools Association president praised the Government for addressing the issue.
Association president Patrick Walsh said it was the first time schools had been told they had powers to search and seize.
He hoped it would be a powerful deterrent for children who thought they could bring drugs or weapons into schools.
Both said the guidelines needed more detail. Agency chief executive Kirk Hardy said they were "very open to interpretation, which could be ultimately costly for schools".
Hardy said he had written to Education Minister Anne Tolley about his concerns that some schools were using "shocking" and illegal drug-testing practices.
He was also concerned that the draft guidelines focused on weapons rather than alcohol, drugs and synthetic substances such as Kronic.
Tolley's office said the guidelines had gone out for feedback and would not comment until they had been finalised.By Rachel Grunwell Email Rachel