If comments from school board members are any indication, the board will likely approve using drug-sniffing dogs on all three Pleasanton high school campuses.
The proposal was pitched by Foothill High School Principal John Dwyer with the two other principals, Jim Hansen at Amador Valley and Greg Giglio from Village High, quickly getting behind the plan.
Dwyer, who called the proposal "the canine protection plan," told the board that drug- and alcohol-related expulsions are on the rise, with 26 at Foothill already this year -- as many as all of the last school year.
"This represents a trajectory that we're concerned about," Dywer told the board Tuesday night. "Basically, we're talking about health and safety."
The plan calls for specially trained dogs to be brought to school parking lots and gym lockers on a schedule agreed upon by the district administration and Pleasanton police, who will provide the drug dogs at no cost.
Although board members were quick to agree to the idea, nearly all of them mentioned the need to deal with the roots of the problem -- alcohol and drug use by students -- as much as the need to keep drugs off campuses. While they hope the dogs will be a deterrent to students bringing drugs onto school grounds, board members largely agreed that a "multi-pronged approach" is needed to tackle the problem.
Only two parents spoke about the idea of bringing dogs onto school grounds, and both Mike Kundmann and his wife, Roseann Csencsits, said they'd support the plan as long as other approaches were included in an effort to cut drug use and not just keep them off campuses.
"We can only do what we can do at school," Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi said, adding, "If we do this, it isn't a permanent thing we do unless it's effective."
Toward that end, Board Member Valerie Arkin asked for a follow-up report after a first sweep is done, although the plan has yet to be officially approved by the board. That could come as early as Jan. 24, the next board meeting.
All three principals said discussions with parents, teachers and students produced no real objections. At a meeting in December at Amador, as reported in the Weekly last month, the idea of bringing drug dogs onto school grounds was met with largely positive reviews by parents, although some, including Jeff Hintzke, the husband of board member Jamie Hintzke, worried about fourth amendment search-and-seizure legalities and the potential for kids to get busted -- and a bad reputation -- for someone else's drugs or a false positive.
"This is completely legal and within the rights of the school district to do this," said Kevin Johnson, senior director of pupil services, who'd checked with the district's legal counsel.
Police at the board meeting said similar searches are being done at Dublin and Livermore high schools and that the courts have ruled random searches of parking lots and lockers are legal as long as the students themselves aren't sniffed by the dogs, which would constitute a search.
"My position on this is simple," Police Chief Dave Spiller told the board. "I will endeavor to use all the resources at my disposal to eliminate drugs at schools."