Pubdate: Wed, 13 Mar 2002
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2002 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Kevin Conner
Bookmark: (Youth)


A private firm conducted a drug search at Oconee County High School on 
Monday, locking school entrances to prohibit students from leaving the 
building while dog handlers walked by cars and went through classrooms.

Drug agents hired by the Oconee school system turned two male students, 
ages 16 and 17, over to the Oconee County Sheriff's Department after 
finding small amounts of marijuana in their cars. The sheriff's department 
then charged them for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

"We're always concerned with drug issues on campus," said Oconee County 
High School Principal Mark Channell. "We're very pleased we didn't find any 
more than we did."

The South Carolina company RAID Corps, which specializes in school drug and 
weapons searches, locked the school Monday so students couldn't leave and 
took two dogs sniffing around cars in the school's parking lot to search 
for weapons or drugs. Dogs also went through randomly picked classrooms, 
after students were asked to leave the room, and sniffed their belongings 
to check for drugs or weapons. It was the first such search of the school 
year in Oconee County, but school administrators have permitted searches in 
previous years, including one last year.

A search last year was conducted by the Oconee, Greene and Barrow County 
sheriff's departments. The school system's central office keeps the date 
for drug date searches secret from both students and school employees. 
"It's something we hope to do on a periodic basis in the future," said 
schools Superintendent Shannon Adams. "Our goal is not to make an example 
of a student, our goal is to make the schools as safe as they can possibly be."

Students arrested on drug charges face automatic 10-day suspensions then 
must face a disciplinary tribunal, which consists of administrators and 
certified personnel, that determines if they get further punishment. 
Punishment in drug cases vary with the type of drugs found and whether the 
students were selling them.

The neighboring Clarke County School System last year considered having 
drug dog searches and random drug tests for student drivers, but never 
acted on implementing them.
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