School Officials Cite Positive Feedback to Proposed Drug Dog Expansion

Rob Metz, principal at St. Louis Park High School, said he's generally heard supportive comments.

A proposal to at —and expand them to the —has generally been met with positive feedback, school officials said Monday.

During a special school board meeting, high school principal Rob Metz said most people he's spoken with have been supportive of the proposed expansion, which would bring drug-sniffing dogs into classrooms randomly about eight times per year. Currently, searches are only performed in common areas, such as hallways and bathrooms.

Metz said no formal surveys of teachers, students or parents have been done to date, but he cited an editorial in the student newspaper The Echo as a sign of some student support.

"Drug dogs are the most effective tool the administration has in its efforts to create a chemical-free environment," the Echo staff wrote, "and expanding their role would be a strong and bold step toward further eliminating illegal substances from the school."

However, The Echo wrote that these proposed classroom searches would have to be done carefully.

"If the searches are expanded, it is imperative the rooms searched are truly randomly selected. The administration must be careful not to target any specific classes or groups of students believed to be carrying drugs."

Board member Bruce Richardson echoed this sentiment on Monday.

"If we start profiling—we don't want to do that," he said.

Richardson said he's heard from parents on both sides of the issue, and he personally is caught in the middle.

"The classroom is sacred. It's for learning—not for busting people for drug use," he said. "To have (drug) dogs in classrooms now makes me pretty uncomfortable."

Richardson also said having drug-sniffing dogs in high school classrooms might send a mixed-message to students learning about the Constitution, and other issues involving social and political freedom.

"I'm hung up about this," Richardson added.

Les Bork, principal at the junior high, said he's in favor of adding common area searches to his building, which currently has no searches. He said many parents he's spoken to didn't even know searches occurred at the high school, leading him to believe the searches are fairly non-controversial.

"It's cheap, and I think it's effective," Bork added. The searches cost about $100 per visit.

No formal expansion plan has been put forward to date. Metz said Monday night's meeting was about hearing feedback, and he and Bork would use it to move forward.

Board members said they could see a vote on the issue in time for next school year.


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