Colorado principal defends use of drug dogs

The principal of Colorado’s Longmont High School is defending a plan to use dogs to sniff out drugs in student lockers and cars.

Principal Mary White said that while she supports the plan, she hopes the dogs don’t find anything. “But if we do, we’ll deal with it,” she said.

She defended the plan at a Nov. 15 forum attended by about 30 students and parents. The dogs, which would be supplied by Longmont police, would search while students are in class. School officials haven’t decided how often to use the dogs.

Some students said the dogs will erode trust between students and administrators.

“The two students you catch on the third dog search, is that worth the students at the school who feel uncomfortable?” asked Longmont High student body President Tony Pares. “It goes too far.”

But fellow student Andy Hopping, a junior, said students who bring drugs to school give up their right to expect trust. “They’re just doing it as a safeguard,” he said.

Principal White said she struggled with the issue but decided the drug problem is serious enough to warrant a more active response than the current drug-education presentations and assemblies.

One other St. Vrain Valley school has used dogs in the past to search for drugs. Drug dogs aren’t used in nearby Boulder Valley schools, despite a parent request following the Ecstasy-related death of former Monarch High School student Brittney Chambers in February. Her friends bought the drug in a Monarch bathroom.

Connecticut Superior Court upholds Waterbury school dress code

Waterbury’s mandatory school dress code does not violate students’ civil rights, the Connecticut Superior Court ruled Nov. 19.

The court found that the policy was aimed at reducing disruptions in class and that the board of education had the right to adopt regulations aimed at advancing educational interests, Waterbury officials said.

The court also held that the school dress code creates a learning environment where students are more focused on their classwork and puts all students on equal footing, regardless of economic background, the city said.

Waterbury School Superintendent David Snead said the policy helps improve self esteem among students because they aren’t being judged by the labels on their clothing.

“This policy reduces conflict among students, it’s less expensive for parents, it helps identify all students who belong in a school building,” Snead said.

Acting Mayor Sam Caliguiri said he was pleased with the decision. He added that the case could have nationwide ramifications, as other school districts begin adopting dress codes.

The dress code policy was challenged by the parents of Teshana Byars, who was charged with criminal trespass in March 1999 after she went to school on a day when she was supposed to be serving suspension for wearing blue jeans. Byars, a 12-year-old eighth-grader at the time, was arrested at her middle school. The criminal charge was eventually dismissed.

The lawsuit, brought by the families of Byars and three other students who were suspended or expelled for disobeying the dress code, claimed the policy violated their civil rights and their right to a free public education under state law.

The children and their parents were represented by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union. Teresa Younger, executive director of the CCLU, said she could not comment on the case because she had not yet received the official court ruling.

Former Missouri superintendent charged with keeping weapons at school

A retired Spokane, Mo., school superintendent has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon after deputies found two high-powered guns and another weapon in a storage room near his old office.

Floyd Jarvis, 63, was charged Nov. 19 with three Class A misdemeanors after the guns—a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and an AK-47 with a bayonet—were discovered along with a black metal club with a knife in the handle.

School officials were cleaning the stockroom near Jarvis’ office at Spokane High School earlier this month when they found the weapons and alerted authorities. Jarvis said he had put the weapons there three or four years ago because guns had been stolen during a rash of burglaries in the area where he lived.

“I just have to face up to it,” Jarvis said. “I don’t know what to say. What I did was wrong; it was a stupid mistake.

“I should never have taken them to school. I don’t think it’s right for anyone, especially students, to take any kinds of weapons to school. I should’ve never done it.”

Jarvis, who retired Oct. 31 after 23 years in the district and 20 as superintendent, said the storeroom door was always locked and only he and his secretary had keys.

Each count carries up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Jarvis is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 5.

Spokane is located about 20 miles south of Springfield.