Pubdate: Fri, 09 Dec 2011
Source: Taunton Daily Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2011 Taunton Daily Gazette
Author: Charles Winokoor


Taunton -- A police drug search conducted Friday morning at Coyle and
Cassidy High School failed to turn up any contraband, according to one
relieved school official.

"We usually do it once in the spring and once in the fall," said
school principal Bob Gay, adding that "It's part of the culture of the
school to ensure parents we're providing a safe environment for their

Gay said around a dozen law enforcement officers made up of Taunton
police and members of sheriff's departments from Bristol and Plymouth
counties took part in the search.

He said as many as nine specially trained K-9-unit dogs sniffed
lockers used by Coyle's 580 students, as well as vehicles parked
outside in the school parking lot.

Gay said there were no detected "hits" for marijuana or other drugs
inside the building but that dogs were alerted to three parked
vehicles. Two of those vehicles, after a thorough check, were
determined to be drug-free.

A third, Gay said, was searched and found to contain minute amounts of
marijuana residue. The female student who drove the car to school
voluntarily submitted to a drug test given by her personal physician
and was determined to be "clean," he said.

The girl was not reprimanded or disciplined, he added.

The 59-year-old Gay, now in his second year as principal of the
Catholic school, said parents, students and teachers are all on board
with the annual searches.

Gay said the policy has been in effect for at least five

He also says students and teachers went into a lock-down mode by
staying confined to classrooms during the search operation, which
lasted from 9:20 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.

"It's not as if we do this because we suspect something is going down;
we just want to keep the kids honest," said Gay, formerly principal of
North Attleboro High School for nine years.

Faculty and staff, he said, are also not forewarned of the searches:
"We keep it very hush, hush," Gay said.

Friday's search, he said, was in line with the school's zero-tolerance
policy of drugs and alcohol. Gay pointed out that a breathalyzer unit
is now standard equipment for testing students for alcohol at proms
and dances.

Other schools in the Taunton region also have coordinated
school-premises searches for illegal drugs.

Last May a K-9 search was conducted at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional
School by Dighton Police officers, the result of which were "two minor
incidents," authorities said.

Taunton Schools Superintendent Julie Hackett said it's been three
years since the last unannounced drug search was conducted at Taunton
High School.

She said THS searches are typically coordinated by school officials
and police resource officers, two of whom are assigned to the school
Monday through Friday.

Hackett notes that the operations involving K-9 units are a great
opportunity for police in terms of training.

"I think it's a good idea," she said.

She declined, however, to confirm whether a drug search of the high
school would be conducted during the current school year.

But Gay said it's just a matter of time before another drug search is
conducted at Coyle-Cassidy.

"We'll continue to do it," he said, adding that "You can't just talk
the talk." 
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