Pubdate: Fri, 13 Feb 2015
Source: Day, The (New London,CT)
Copyright: 2015 The Day Publishing Co.
Author: Joe Wojtas
Bookmark: (Drug Dogs)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Stonington - Board of Education member Craig Esposito has criticized 
the use of police dogs to search the high school for illegal drugs in 
December, saying it sent a "bad message" to students.

"It's like you're the warden and the school is a prison," he told 
Principal Mark Friese during Thursday night's Board of Education meeting.

"You as an adult would not want to be treated that way. To me, it's 
overkill," he said.

His comments came after Friese offered an overview of the Dec. 12 
sweep, in which eight police dogs from area departments searched 
school hallways, locker rooms and parking lots for illegal drugs 
while students remained in their classrooms. Two students were cited 
for possession of marijuana.

Esposito said the fact that the sweep netted just two violations 
shows there is not a problem, but an overreaction.

But Friese said during his time at the school he has found illegal 
drugs on a number of occasions.

"I know it's around and I know it's increasing," he said.

"I feel a strong message is needed to make sure it's not here."

Friese said students were told at the beginning of the school year 
that the dogs would come to the school. He said he plans to have the 
dogs conduct sweeps twice each school year and more if he feels the 
problem is increasing.

Board of Education Chairman Frank Todisco reminded Esposito that the 
school board had approved the policy that allowed the K-9 teams in school.

"I feel it's important to let parents know that we're not going to 
allow drugs here," added Superintendent of Schools Van Riley. "In my 
experience, if you don't do things like this, you will have more" problems.

Charlie Buxton, a senior who is the board's student representative, 
told the board his fellow classmates did not have an issue with the 
dogs. He said they had been warned the dogs would be coming in during 
the school year.

"It sends a clear message to students that you're here for learning," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom