The East Hampton, N.Y., school board voted unanimously to allow drug-sniffing dogs into its local high school.
The new measure, which was brought forth after a parent discovered that her child was offered cocaine by another student while eating lunch at the school, generally appeared to be agreed upon by all of the parents in attendance at the meeting, according to the East Hampton Star.
“We have not heard one word against — not one,” School Board President Patricia Hope said, explaining that parents of varying types of students approved the new measure, which would attempt to curb drug use and sale within the school.
“I’m pretty conservative on this,” said one parent. “I have no problem with them sniffing our children.”
East Hampton High School principal Adam Fine explained that the K-9 dogs would arrive to search the building unannounced, and that when they are in the school students are to be forced to remain in the classrooms. The dogs will not, Fine assured parents, be allowed near any of the students. Instead, they will sniff near lockers and other areas of the school.
“Dogs cannot go near kids,” Fine reassured parents in attendance at the meeting.
According to board members, the new dog policy was not met with much criticism due to the school’s current policies towards searching students for drugs, weapons or other illegal materials.
“The district already has enormous power under existing policy to search students whenever there is cause,” board member Jackie Lowey said. “This is a fairly minor change in the context of the tools that the district already has.”
Outside of the East Hampton school district, however, the presence of drug-sniffing dogs has been a much more hot-button issue. Courts have generally ruled that dog-sniffing does not constitute a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, according to About.com. Only once a dog discovers what might be the presence of an illicit substance can law enforcement officials establish probable cause.
When parents are concerned about their children’s drug use in schools, it appears as if any issue of constitutionality loses its importance.