Pubdate: Wed, 21 Aug 2002
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2002 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Wayne Ford, Oconee Editor
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)
Bookmark: (Youth)


There will be drug and contraband searches at Oconee County High School, 
Malcom Bridge Middle School, and Oconee County Middle School at various 
times during the 2002-03 school year. Just when they will happen, school 
officials aren't saying. In fact, they say they don't know either. That 
decision has been left up to Raid Corps Inc., a company based in 
Spartanburg, S.C., that contracts to do drug searches in schools in several 
states, including both of the Carolinas. Last week, a few of the details 
were released following a meeting that included school superintendent 
Shannon Adams, assistant superintendent for Student Services John Osborne, 
Oconee High principal Mark Channell, assistant principal Luis Varela, 
Malcom Bridge Middle principal Tom Odom, Oconee County Middle principal 
Ellen Cowne and Sheriff Scott Berry. Adams said he believed the measure 
will be a deterrent to anyone planning to take illegal drugs or contraband 
onto campus. "Parents in this community send their children to school 
everyday with the expectation they won't be exposed to illegal drugs or 
encounter a weapon on campus. That's the main purpose -- to keep the 
schools as safe for kids and the staff members as we can," Adams said. 
Items like pocketknives, ammunition, fireworks and stink bombs are not 
allowed on campus. Last year ammunition was found in some vehicles, though 
none was found inside the school. Osborne said many students hunt, but they 
need to know to check their vehicles and remove any such items before going 
to school. Berry said Raid Corps will notify him prior to the search, then 
he will give school administrators at least three minutes notice. Local 
deputies will also accompany Raid Corp officers and the dogs. When the 
search begins, students undergo a "lock down," meaning they must stay in 
whatever classroom they happen to be in. "While the search is conducted, no 
one can come and go from the campus," Berry said. "That is for the safety 
of the students, the safety of the officers conducting the search and it 
also provides for the integrity of the search. That will be regretful. 
It'll interfere with some dental appointments and maybe some other type 
activities, but the truth is I think the public demands we ensure the 
schools are safe. If you are here when the search starts, you'll be here 
when it finishes." Channell said all students have handbooks detailing what 
they cannot bring on campus. In last year's search, three marijuana charges 
were made. "We'll spend more time going over it this year, so they will 
know the consequences," he said.
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