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Pleasanton high schools may soon have visits from drug-sniffing dogs that will check student lockers and cars for drugs. The Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the program at its meeting Tuesday night, but the searche swould not begin until a policy is adopted for how the program would be implemented. Pleasanton police would provide the dogs and supervise the searches at no cost to the district.
There has been a rise in drug-related suspensions at the three high schools where the policy would be implemented, Foothill High School, Amador Valley High School and Village High School, while suspensions for other reasons have dropped, prompting the interest in the new policy, district spokeswoman Nicole Steward said today. The dogs would be used during school days in gym locker rooms while students are in physical education classes, and in student parking lots, checking around cars.
While the five board members and three high school principals were supportive of the plan at Tuesday’s meeting, some community members expressed concerns that the program may violate students’ privacy rights, or that the district may be held liable in the case of a false accusation. Pleasanton police Officer Ryan Dawson said at the meeting that using a dog to smell an inanimate object was not considered a search as long as the dog was someplace it was legally allowed to be, and that the department had referenced case law that demonstrated the program would be legal.
Officials also said that any accusation would be thoroughly investigated to avoid false accusations, but that a high percentage of allegations of drug use in schools turn out to be correct. “There’s quite a bit of case law backing up this search; schools already do random searches of lockers and cars as they deem appropriate,” Steward said. “When a student’s on campus they can be searched,” she said. The board will draft a policy for the use of dogs at its next meeting, on Feb. 14, and may vote on whether to adopt the policy at the following meeting on Feb. 28.
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