Drug-sniffing dogs will be coming to Pleasanton's three high schools -- but not until the end of February at the earliest.
Tuesday night, the school board approved a modified plan that would bring the dogs to high school campuses at the request of a principal, but only after a search is signed off by Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi or someone she designates.
The month delay is to allow the board to establish written policy that would allow for the canine searches. Neighboring school districts in Dublin and Livermore have such policies.
Despite the approval, there remained some hesitation from some board members. Board President Joan Laursen, for one, said she never envisioned herself as having to make such a choice.
Board member Valerie Arkin pushed for other efforts, such as the recent forums on drug and alcohol abuse, to continue and called for a revamping of the schools' DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs. She also suggested creating an "anonymous" posting section on the school district's web site where messages could be posted similar to the "tip line" already in place by telephone. Arkin also asked for a report after the first canine search sweep is done.
Board member Jamie Hintzke questioned the accuracy of the dogs' sniffing capabiities.
Board members agreed that use of the dogs to sweep parking lots and gym lockers should be only part of a "multi-pronged approach."
"I really view this as one of many, many tools," said board member Chris Grant.
Member Jeff Bowser opposed the motion to delay implementation of the drug dogs, which Foothill Principal John Dwyer, who proposed to plan, called "the canine protection plan."
Bowser said there was "a sense of urgency" in getting the plan up and running, noting that some kids who may have drugs in their cars are likely to be using them and driving.
Student board Member Shreya Gupta weighed in as well. Gupta said conversations with other students led to conflicting thinking about the plan. She said some students opposed the plan because they thought the searches will be a breach of their civil liberties, while she and others think the schools would be safer if kids left their drugs at home.
The board will hold two meetings, on February 14 and 28, to approve new board policy on the use of drug dogs.
"We have a problem in our schools," said Ahmadi. "We can always do a better job of letting students know that if they have drugs, they're going to be searched."