As a proactive step to promote a drug-free school environment, the Helena School District will begin school-wide random drug searches in our high schools. These searches will be conducted in the hallways and parking lots. The searches will be initiated in the fall of 2002.
As a joint effort between the Helena School District and local law enforcement these searches will include the use of trained drug detection dogs. The Helena high schools will continue to strive to provide the safest educational environment for your children.
Please visit with your children about this new process. We have included frequently asked questions and answers regarding this practice.
Q. Are dogs going to check individual students?
A. Dogs will be used to sweep hallways and parking lots. Students will be
kept in class during the process.
Q. Why are dogs being used?
A. To keep drugs off the campus.
Q. What happens if the dog alerts on a locker?
A. The school administration has been given reasonable cause to search the locker. If an illegal substance is found, the school resource officer will become a part of the process. Parents will be notified immediately.
Q. What happens if the dog alerts on a vehicle?
A. The owner of the vehicle and/or the parent of the student will be notified. Permission will be asked to search the vehicle. If permission is not given, the school parking permit will be with drawn for the remainder of the year. It would be left up to the legal authorities to pursue a search warrant. All hallways and parking lots will be subject to search.
Q. Will drug dogs be used at activities?
A. At this time it is not planned to have sweeps during extra-curricular
Q. How often would the dog searches happen?
A. No set number of searches has been determined. Dates and times for random searches will be determined by the administration.
Q. What happens to visitors or students who enter the building when a sweep is occurring?
A. They should check into the office and wait for directions.
Q. What happens if I have an appointment and must leave the building while a sweep is occurring?
A. After the dog(s) sweeps the area your classroom is located in you will be escorted to check out.
Q. How do we know the dogs used are qualified?
A. They are certified regularly through the Montana Law Enforcement Association as recognized by POST Council.
Q. What kind of drugs will the dogs alert on?
A. Dogs are trained to alert on a wide variety of controlled substances.
Q. Will local law enforcement be involved?
A. A law enforcement officer will handle the K-9. There will be a joint effort between HSD administration and the local law enforcement agency. If there is a violation of state or federal law, a law enforcement officer will be involved.
Q. Should students fear the dog?
A. There will be no direct contact between students and dogs. The dog is handled by a highly trained officer.
Q. What about students who have allergies to dogs?
A. There will be no direct contact between the dog and students.
Q. How long will it take?
A. We hope to have sweeps completed within a class period but this may vary.
Q. How will kids know a sweep will occur?
A. Assemblies are planned at all schools. There will be articles in student
and parent newsletters. The first sweep will be announced. Subsequent
searches will be random.
Q. What can I do as a parent?
A. Discuss with your children the necessity for the school district to provide a safe environment for all students.
Q. Are there other schools that use drug dogs in Montana?
A. Yes, many schools use drug dogs for sweeps. This includes AA districts. The HSD Substance Abuse Committee reviewed procedures and policies from other AA districts to plan for the HSD implementation process.
Q. Is this a violation of my right to privacy?
A. It is a search of school premises, not of individual students.