Jennifer Maloney reports:
The sole educator on the Suffolk Legislature’s heroin advisory panel Friday defended the group’s recommendations for drug-sniffing dogs in schools and drug tests for student athletes, citing his district’s experience with police dogs sniffing lockers for banned substances.
Smithtown is the first Suffolk district to accept County Executive Steve Levy’s offer to use county police dogs to sniff school lockers.
On its first visit on Nov. 18, a Suffolk police K-9 unit walked through Smithtown High School East during school hours and found in one locker a marijuana pipe with residue and two pills, Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said Friday. A 16-year-old student was charged with possession of marijuana, Dormer said.
Drug-sniffing dogs and student drug testing raise legal questions that have not been resolved by the courts, legal experts said Friday. Some courts have held that dogs may not sniff a student if authorities have no suspicion the student possesses drugs. In New York State, student drug testing can be done only with the consent of the parent.
Read more in Newsday [behind paywall]
Once again, we see some schools trying to capitalize on opportunities to search students or invade privacy. Of course, they explain this all as an attempt to protect student health and safety, but then why not just use education and encourage parents to have their children’s physicians include a drug screen during a routine physical? Using physicals for school athletes as an opportunity to require drug testing that they otherwise might not be able to require is just doing an end run around student’s privacy and civil liberties. Bringing in drug-sniffing dogs creates a surveillance environment in schools. What’s next? Bringing in knife-sniffing, gun-sniffing, and bomb-sniffing dogs for routine scans? (Okay, I made up the bit about knife-sniffing and gun-sniffing dogs. At least I think I made it up).
To those who believe that this is a “good thing:” the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Take another route.