Friday, April 20 , 2018, 4:02 pm | Fair 63º


Should Drug-Detection Dogs Be Used on Santa Barbara High School Campuses? Take Our Survey

Add your voice to the debate over whether the Santa Barbara Unified School District should authorize random searches

Drug-detection dogs may soon be randomly searching high school campuses in the Santa Barbara Unified School District and Noozhawk’s reporting on the proposal has drawn a lot of attention from readers.

District officials say feedback has been more positive than the reaction to a similar pitch a few years ago and the Board of Trustees is expected to take up the idea in November.

Board policy does authorize having specially trained dogs sniff out and alert staff to substances that are illegal or at least illegal on school campuses. The dogs would search classrooms and areas like parking lots as a preventative measure, according to district student services director Marlin Sumpter.

Interquest Detection Canines, the Houston-based company recommended by Sumpter, uses nonaggressive Labrador and golden retrievers that are always leashed and alert handlers to the presence of substances by sitting down, as they showed in a June demonstration at the district. The dogs are trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, ecstasy, alcoholic beverages, gunpowder and frequently abused prescription medication like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin.

Bishop Diego High School, which is among dozens of Interquest clients in California, has had the program in place on its campus for more than five years.

“It’s a good preventative measure we think,” Paul Harrington, Bishop Diego’s head of school, told Noozhawk. “It’s random and has been a priority for us to try to ensure we’re as drug-free as we can be.

“We try to hit as many classrooms as we can in a visit,” he added, explaining that the students and teacher step outside for a few minutes as the dogs are walked down the aisles to sniff belongings.

The dogs also search the parking lot and outdoor lockers while students are in class. The good-natured dogs are well-trained, Harrington said.

With an issue like drugs and alcohol use, it’s important to approach it from as many angles as possible, and the dogs are just one effort, he added.

For the Santa Barbara Unified School District, two half-day visits per month at each high school campus would cost $1,230 per month.

At a Sept. 27 meeting, trustees had some concerns and asked for more outreach this time around, so Superintendent Dave Cash has been meeting with school Parent-Teacher-Student Associations and English Learner Advisory Committees. Administrators and principals have supported the proposal while parents and students appear to have mixed reactions so far.

But what do you think? Take Noozhawk’s unscientific survey:

Do you support the use of drug-detection dogs on Santa Barbara Unified School District high school campuses?
Yes No Not Sure free polls 

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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