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Canine-Assisted Drug/Alcohol Sweep Could Happen During 2012-2013 School Year

Canton Board of Education approves measure, authorizing but not guaranteeing action at Canton Middle/High School campus.

With unanimous Board of Education approval Tuesday evening, a Canine-assisted drug/alcohol sweep could happen at Canton High/Middle School during the 2012-2013 school year.

The policy is not a new one but gives the administration the authority to conduct a sweep for "illegal substances or contraband" during the school year, provided Superintendent Kevin Case and school administrators take other required steps. 

Case said those have been accomplished, such as inclusion of the policy in the student handbook and announcements to all students at the beginning of the year.

Students were assembled and told there are no private areas at school, including lockers and vehicles.

“All are subject to search,” Case said.

As part of a report to the board each year, Case also reported on incidents involving illegal substances at the school. In the 2011-2012 school year, there were 8 individuals found in possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia, three of which were arrested and issued a juvenile summons. So far this year, two students have been found in violation, he said.

That number partially accounts for whether administrators ask to conduct a sweep. The approval does not guarantee one will happen but authorizes it, school officials said. 

Responding to a board member's question about why there was no search last year, Case said it was largely a scheduling issue that prevented securing the use of dogs from an out-of-town agency. Canton currently does not have a police canine.

Case also said a sweep has actually not been done since June of 2008. That action resulted in a lawsuit. According to this Associated Press-run story at Boston.com, a lawsuit was filed by a group of parents in 2009. According to the article and other media coverage the school successfully defended the suit in lower courts. According to media reports, the main plaintiff appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which eventually dismissed the case, in part because the student central to it had already graduated.

Case did not comment on the case Tuesday night but did acknowledge that the policy was amended after the incident.

For example, according to the Associated Press article, students were held in their classrooms during the sweep but 15 were then called out while police searched their lockers or cars.

The current policy states that students will "stay put" in their classrooms during a sweep but that an administrator or principal will search lockers and vehicles that were the site of dog “alerts" after police and the canine handlers leave the premises. It also states that it would be done with the student or a witness present. 

Read the full policy here

Andrew Ziemba November 29, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Thinking that this will accomplish anything more than a further waste of tax dollars is what is naive. Anyway, since when is it OK to rummage through someone's stuff? Is it because they are minors, and therefor they have no rights? Or is it because they need to be conditioned that warrantless searches and seizures are good for a free society? What a great lesson to teach our young. They must be harassed needlessly. Anything to continue the flawed war on drugs. Parents should be responsible for raising thoughtful, responsible, respectful members of society. I wonder if there are plans to do what they are doing in Texas. Have you heard? In a public school in Texas students must carry an RFID chip with them at all times. Don't believe me? Go ahead and look it up. It's a sick world, and it is getting a lot sicker. The two comments above show clearly that we have become a nation of docile sheeple who will happily be strip searched, tagged, and fried by scanners all for the name of security or to catch those who may be committing a crime before it is committed. How far will be too far in 20 years? RFID chips for all the children, make sure each and every one is accounted for just like the little cattle that they are treated like. Poor kids...
Donna Gentile November 29, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Thank you John Fitts, for this story, and especially for providing the link to read the full policy. I really appreciate your journalism. Good journalism is hard to find these days, and you exemplify what a journalist used to be, and what a quality journalist needs to be. Thanks for all your hard work, community involvement and awesome reporting! Sincerely, Donna Gentile
Wyatt November 29, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Fully support this. The BOE owns the school and has a right to ensure that its lockers are not being used to store illegal substances.
Cindy November 30, 2012 at 12:37 AM
As a parent of a high schooler, I am fully in favor of this.
N. Jon I. Twist December 02, 2012 at 05:48 PM
The BOE does not own the High School the TAX payers of this town paid to have it built. We the tax payers own that building. If you think the students need privacy, let them go to a Private school. I do not want to be an enabler. Canton High had an honor student who was also a state champion wrestler who went on to be a street bum druggy in Boston, He believed that he could handle anything. Today he looks 30 years older than he is. What a waste of talent Don’t say it can’t happen here. We also need more (better) education for our students concerning drugs.

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