Can You Metal Detect on School Property?

Metal detecting is a world-renowned hobby. The number of metal detecting hobbyists is growing as metal detecting becomes more popular in certain areas. While it is a hobby, it is still important to be aware of the laws and regulations surrounding public and private property when searching for places to metal detect.

Public schools reside on public land; however, permission is still needed to metal detect on school property. Private schools are on private land, so metal detecting on these properties is typically not allowed. Permission is always required before going on school property because of child safety laws. 

Once permission is granted, feel free to metal detect on school properties as long as you remain respectful, aware of your surroundings, and careful of your interaction with children. Read on to learn about the rules regarding hobby metal detecting on school property.

Can You Metal Detect on School Property?

Man metal detecting on a dirt road.

Unless a special permit is granted, nearly all federal properties are off-limits for those who want to go metal detecting. It is important to request permission and get a permit to allow you to metal detect freely and at your discretion.

Here is what you should do before using your metal detector on school property:

  • Apply for a permit.
  • Ask permission from the principal or head of the school.
  • Study the rules of metal detecting carefully, so you know what will be expected of you if you receive permission.
  • Check the state code of ethics for metal detecting and make sure that you adhere to your specific state’s guidelines.

If you are granted a permit and permission to metal detect on a certain property, it does not give you free rein to do you whatever you want. Certain rules and a code of ethics must be followed to keep everyone safe and accountable for their actions.

Items discovered on government property can be confiscated if administrators are made aware of your findings. It is essential to communicate your findings to property owners in case sentimental items are found that need to be returned. 

What Are the Official Rules of Metal Detecting?

The word rules written on a blackboard

Some guidelines should be followed when metal detecting. These rules are not laws; however, they are suggestions that you should adhere to while metal detecting on a property that is not your own to remain respectful to your surroundings.

Here are some rules you should follow when you set out to go metal detecting:

  • Use the smallest digging tool possible: The only reason you should be carrying a larger shovel than a handheld shovel is to dig in a woodland area or a large farm area that will require heavier machinery. When digging, holes should be dug in small plug-like circles. This will avoid damage to the land on which you are detecting.
  • Dispose of your trash finds: Do not leave litter behind. Often, metal detectors carry two pouches in their pockets so that they can store treasure in one pocket and trash and the other to keep the area clean.
  • Leave a location just like you found it (or better): Never disturb plant life, trees, or flowers, which may be around the places you are digging. Always close doors, gates, and fences, and make sure that you do not leave anything open that is not supposed to be. This will help you to avoid letting any animals or children escape. Be respectful of historical and significant statues and objects on whatever property that you are metal detecting on.
  • Share your findings with the property owner: It is important to show your findings to the property owner because you may find something valuable. Return any historical and sentimental objects that you may find while metal detecting. Sometimes, things are lost that are particularly important to the land on which they were discovered. 
  • Label your findings: Being organized is an essential part of being a good metal detector. Label your findings by what they are and where they were found. Labeling all of the objects and treasures that you have found is a fantastic way to add up your findings, return the correct things to the landowner, and be respectful of property that may not be yours. 

The Best Time to Metal Detect on School Property

When you’re planning to metal detect on school property, be aware that certain times will be more reasonable for you to do so because of traffic, crowded spaces, and the safety of the children who attend the school.

The best time of year to metal detect on school property is during spring. Whatever people dropped and left during snowy weather will be near the surface of the earth when you attempt to discover treasure. Not to mention, once the weather clears up and begins to grow warm, it will be more enjoyable to get outside and begin your hunt!

The best times to go metal detecting on school property include:

  • Evenings
  • Weekends
  • Holidays
  • School breaks
  • Springtime 

These are all excellent times to go metal detecting on school property because children will most likely not be around, and you will be able to move around more freely without being questioned about your intentions. These times also be quieter and free from crowds.

You should always be aware of your surroundings and considerate of the people around you and how they may perceive what you are doing. (Source: Metal Detecting World)

Who Is Allowed on School Property?

Schools are meant to be a safe place for the education and development of children. When parents drop their children off at school, they entrust other adults to protect and defend their children’s safety. This is no small task.

Although public schools technically reside on public property, administrators can ban people from the property if they feel that their students and staff are being put at risk. 

Since private schools are on private property, they create their own rules and guidelines accordingly. Therefore, it is important to gain proper permission and clearance before entering any school property so that you will not be deemed a trespasser. 

The following chart tells who is allowed and not allowed on school property:

ALLOWED

NOT ALLOWED

Students

Convicted Sex Offenders

Teachers

Parents Who Have Caused Unease

Parents

Strangers who have no affiliation with the school

Approved Guest Speakers

Convicted felons

Administrators

Anyone else who is deemed unsafe by school administrators

Employees

Approved Public Citizens

Historically, public schools have been entirely open to the public; however, with present-day crimes and dangers that continue to escalate, school administrators have had to crack down on security, including who they approve to be on and off school property. 

Anyone who enters school property without proper clearance or a good reason to be there will be considered a trespasser, and authorities can and will be notified for the safety of everyone on campus. (Source: DMLP)

In Conclusion


Metal detecting is a tremendously fun hobby. However, you must receive the proper clearance and permission from locations you want to search, especially school properties, before you begin your treasure hunt. Even further, you should ensure that the people you plan to go metal detecting are allowed on school property.

Public property is often a good place for you to metal detect on. Once permission has been received, make sure to do your metal detecting when the schools are not crowded. This will enable you to have more peace during your search, as well as the ability to move about at your leisure. And don’t forget always to leave a location better than you found it! Happy Treasure hunting!

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