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Amity Board of Ed Addresses Drug Sniffing Dogs in Classrooms

Board reviews policy based on concern from parents

The Amity Board of Education is referring its policy on the use of drug sniffing dogs to its policy committee for review based on a request from two board members.

"I attended a drug forum and talked to parents and the school resource officer, and they're concerned," says Steven DeMaio. "Kids know the dogs aren't allowed to sniff them."

He asked the board to consider sending the policy which allows dogs only to sniff the school building for drugs back for review and a possible update. He said parents have told him they'd have no problem with drug sniffing dogs entering classrooms and sniffing students.

Superintendent of schools John Brady prefers not to allow dogs to sniff students in the classroom. He says it could cause a frightening event for kids who are scared of dogs: "A police officer dressed assault style and a drug sniffing dog in the classroom will change the nature of the school from a safe and welcoming place to one where students feel fearful."

High School Principal Charles Britton supported Brady's sentiments: "I'm confident that the existing policy provides the leverage and flexibility to deter - which is the primary purpose of drug sniffing dogs - or catch students with drugs."

Orange Parent David Guzowski share his concerns: "We should be able to look in the mirror every morning and know that we've done all we can," to eliminate drugs at the high school.

"I can't wrap my head around the fact that kids down the street from me are involved with drugs. It's easy to buy heroine now and the kids know that as long as they hold the drugs on their person, dogs can't sniff them at the high school," Guzowski says.

Administrators were tight-lipped when asked about preventative actions they take regarding students with drugs in school since it's a matter or security.

Board of Education members Sue Cohen, Thomas Hurley, Christopher Browe, Diane Crocco, Rita Gedansky and Tracey Lane Russo are on the policy committee.

Alex April 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Absolutely yes, bring in the dogs and whatever else to get these drugs out of society! At this age these kids are mature enough to be around a well trained dog, and if not, well then a little scare won't hurt anyone, especially the ones that have illegal drugs in their possession! I am a parent and I think it's a wonderful idea and completely agree!
Beverly Kaye April 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Alex, I agree with you 100%. I travel constantly and see that these dogs are beautifully trained. They sit immediately when they smell drugs and are not threatening in their demeanor. What's threatening is the fact that there have been drugs at Amity for decades with not enough done to protect the kids and save lives.
WoodbridgeMom April 10, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Zero tolerance. Bring in the dogs.
orange mom April 10, 2012 at 02:49 PM
My kids are much more afraid of the fights and drug use than they are of dogs and officers in gear. They welcome the dogs! Perhaps the administration is afraid of what the dogs will find on their watch...
Michele April 10, 2012 at 06:32 PM
As a former student of Amity and now parent of children in the system I agree with ZERO tolerance. The dogs should be allowed to sniff the students. If there is nothing to hide this should NOT create a problem for the students or the administration. Many parents will agree that a school shooting, a classmate passing from an overdose or beaten in a drug related incident is far more damaging then an uncomfortable encounter with a dog. Just because information has been kept out of the media doesn't mean that parents and children of BOW and other towns don't really know the truth about the drug problem at Amity.
tfal24 April 10, 2012 at 10:36 PM
As a student of the high school, I would also support the dogs inside the classroom, however, there are many allergies and fears the some students have, and I feel that the administration has to respect the student wishes. Remember, 99% of students don't bring drugs to Amity, and as I have seen, because frankly most of the previous comments have been speculation, the "drug problem" at Amity is almost non existent and has gone down since the first time the administration brought the dogs in. Again, I would support the dogs in the classroom as long as the administration respects the fears, religious, and health issues any student has. Oh and by the way, I am not saying that anybody stated this in comments, but not all kids at Amity are bad, just saying, so please treat us with respect.
Gmoney April 11, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Screw you, Legalize It for Adults!
Gmoney April 11, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Ok, we're comin to your house first. K?
Gmoney April 11, 2012 at 02:53 AM
As an Amity grad, I can say that when you are dealing with High School kids, there are always going to be the typically rebellious teenagers. It seems the more restrictions you put on them, & the more authority you present to them, the greater is their desire & abilty to advesely respond to that authority. These are intelligent human beings, who are basically forced into a situation where they are second class citizens, ripped of their Constitutional Rights. They are our children, our siblings, they are us. High School kids are not our enemies, they are our future. If you want the future to be the population accustomed to a police state, random K-9 searches of your person & private property, & a State that refuses free will & the chance to learn from experience, then by all means support this idea.
Amity parent April 11, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Those of you who favor the dogs sniffing students, please consider the outcomes of this policy. Last year, based on the dogs' responses, the lockers of 10 students were searched, and NOTHING WAS FOUND IN ANY OF THEM. The fact is that these animals have a very high false positive rate. Are you advocating that any students that the dogs respond to be strip-searched? What if this were your child? Most Amity kids are good kids who have nothing to do with drugs. Last year 10 of these students were called out of class and had to stand by while their lockers were searched. Some of these students were crying from the public humiliation and fear. Again, NOTHING was found in any of these lockers-- the dogs made mistakes. If you allow dogs to sniff kids, you will now have to search their bodies. Is this really what you want? If you don't care about the good kids that will likely be traumatized over nothing, then at least think about the potential for lawsuits. There has to be a way to deal with the drug problem that treats students in a respectful fashion.
Sue Ellen April 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Frankly, let the dogs go into the classroom and sniff around. To "Amity Paren", it is common knowledge that the kids were tipped off. The high school announced for weeks that the dogs were coming; they are not stupid. Zero tolerance. Let's protect the 99% of the kids who do not do drugs and identify those that are selling drugs, doing drugs and are in possession of drugs while at school. Other high schools in Connecticut are taking a public zero tolerance approach...why not Amity? Last year when the dogs came...I heard no reports of "traumatized kids" as a result of the dogs in the school. Kids with allergies...really?! I doubt that the presence of dogs would cause such emergent reactions. Talked to our child at college (graduated Amity in 2011) and they indicated that bringing the dog into the classroom is the best way ti identify those with drugs on their possession and perhaps under the influence. Can't understand why Amity High...and middle school (don't have blinders there either), would not want to be a leader in CT with zero tolerance. It's a horrible black eye in the public view. All that Amity offers and is known for is minimized and discounted because the public still knows Amity as a "drug and party" school - wake up call parents?!
Sue Ellen April 11, 2012 at 11:45 AM
To Michele - You are so correct! I remember being told about the kid running through the cafe windows breaking through while high on drugs, the fights - there are more this year I understand than last year. There was the kid on the streatcher unconscious - horrible white while being wheeled out of the front doors - kids thought he was dead. Paramedics working on a kid in the ambulance for many minutes before taking off...Kids staggering down the hallways, passing out in clasrooms...yea - the dogs will frighten them! The smell of pot in the Social Studies wing...really parents, you may think you are "potecting" your child from society, but they are exposed more in a day at Amity than in the streets in NYC! Remember, once they go to college, you can't "protect" and "control" them anymore - they are adults and better they understand what drugs...and alcohol can do in a negative sense...they will be less likely to experiment in college AND kids learn by example at home as well.
Elizabeth Pendeusch April 11, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Drs. Britton and Brady seem to think the school is a safe, happy haven. It is not. Drugs AND alcohol are prevalent in the school in all grades and at all academic levels. The administration has to come down hard on everyone. If students know they may be subjected to a breathalyzer or drug sniffing dogs randomly, they may stop coming to school with drugs and alcohol in and on them. Prescription and over-the-counter as well as "illegal" drugs are all dangerous. Cars are dangerous instrumentalities especially operated by inexperienced drivers under the influence. Every Amity student is at risk whether he or she takes drugs or is an innocent bystander. Parents need to open their eyes. Walk the halls, talk to the police. Wake up now before your student is over 18 and treated as an adult in a college town far from home! We are all proud of the colleges our grads attend. What about the hospitals they have been taken to for overdoses and other drug and alcohol related problems. Ask your children, everything is on Facebook!
tfal24 April 11, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Please do not say things if you are not sure that they are true. NONE of what you mentioned is true. And, I am not part of the administration, I am a student. Yes, there are drugs at Amity, AS THERE IS AT EVERY OTHER HIGH SCHOOL IN THE UNITED STATES. Open your eyes. The situation has improved A LOT. Do not blow this out of proportion as you are doing and do not make things up if you are not 100% positive that they are true. I am a student and frankly the only one that can give any of you a straight answer. The administration won't, i can guarantee it. Go ahead ask.
Concerned Resident April 12, 2012 at 03:09 PM
This is excellent experience for the students to get accustomed to the police state for which they will have to live in. Lets start random searches of homes, cars or people walking down the street too while were at it. We gotta put away those pesky weed smokers!
Mister Jones April 12, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Amity parent and Gmoney got it right. I know one kid pulled out of a field trip because of a false positive sniff of his car. Dogs (and breathalizers at dances) are the lazy way out. Observant teachers and administrators ought to be able to tell when kids are drunk or stoned. These blanket searches without any reasonable suspicion foster disrespect for civil rights and can be humiliating. Those who trot out the old canard that people who've done nothing wrong shouldn't object, tell me: wouldn't your self-conscious teenage daughter be mortified to show the contents of her bag, which might include super jumbo tampons, to prying eyes? As an Amity parent, I say let the parents do the parenting.
Sue Ellen April 19, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Mister Jones - Well..I was on a field trip with one kid acting strangely, cold, sweaty and vomiting. Teacher made the decision to call back to the school and get the mom. I was with him at a Mcdonald's and told the mother that something was not quite right and to get him to medical attention ASAP and for complete bloodwork - his pupils were as big a saucers. Offered to call EMS and was told absolutely not...tell me they did not know about his issues! On another field trip was told my a parent - "who cares, we all did pot when we were kids." I responded, "actually, no" and" it will not be happening when I am chaperoning an overnight trip on my watch." She did not take to that too kindly - neither did the kids...not on my watch! Sometimes you just need to be a parent! So, Mister Jones, if that small minority of Amity parents were really parenting...you are right, but that small minority are ruining the experience for all the kids keeping their noses clean - sorry for the pun.
Sue Ellen April 19, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Thank you - better said than I could have done. Everything is on Facebook - take the time to check our kids "friends" on facebook out...you will be surprised! Ask the police department and fire department for response stats - it's public information...you will be shocked!

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