BOE touts drug-dog plan
Public schools would be able to use drug-sniffing dogs to search students' lockers without having to establish reasonable suspicion under a statewide program approved last night by the Board of Education.
The board voted 11-1 to request public hearings in all counties about the planned drug-dog program, said Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen. The proposal would also need Gov. Linda Lingle's signature to take effect.
The initiative was included as part of sweeping revisions to the 6-year-old student misconduct code known as Chapter 19.
In allowing the blanket dog sniffs, the board, meeting at Molokai High School, went against the warning of several legal experts who have argued school administrators need to have some form of suspicion before conducting locker searches, to protect students' privacy.
But board members who have been pushing for a blanket approach contend it is the only way to send a strong message that drugs are prohibited on campus. The state attorney general's office has advised the board that the unannounced dog searches would be legal.
The new language states, "Students should assume that their lockers are subject to opening and inspection any time with or without reason or cause provided that such a search is not because of the student's race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, including gender identity and expression, religion, disability, or sexual orientation."
While the school board narrowly adopted that wording in a 7-5 vote, Kim Coco Iwamoto, a civil-rights attorney, was the only member to object to passage of the revised Chapter 19 document, Knudsen said.