ROANOKE CO., Va. -

Parents and students say the Pulaski County school leaders confiscated several students' cell phones.

The superintendent denies that.

But we wanted to know is it okay for police to seize cell phones or other belongings from students on school property.

The answer is yes, but with limitations.

If a school administrator thinks anything is a distraction to the learning environment; whether it's a phone or anything else; they can confiscate it.

If criminal activity is suspected, that's when police get involved.

In order to go through a phone, police are required by law to obtain a search warrant as part of the investigation unless there's consent.

Unless there's an immediate threat to public safety, police are not allowed to use school administrators to investigate something, in other words it has to go from administrators to police, not the other way around.

Police say if a piece of evidence is seized, it won't be returned until it's ruled out of an investigation.

"Anything that may be lawfully seized for evidentiary purposes, that's where it becomes seized property for completing the investigation," said Sergeant Jay Matze with Roanoke County Police.

Keep this in mind: There's a clear difference between a seizure and a search.

A school administrator can seize an item, but if criminal activity is involved, that's when police need a warrant to search.

The one situation people may want to be aware of is lockers.

Technically a school owns a locker and is lending it out to students, so student lockers can be subject to search.   

But let's remember, it's not something schools do all the time, just in cases where they suspect something is up so to speak.