BOE votes to allow drug-sniffing dogs


POSTED: Friday, June 19, 2009

After three years of debate, the Board of Education voted last night to allow the use of drug-sniffing dogs and permit random locker searches at public school.

The new rules, which allow random searches “;with or without cause,”; passed 8-4.

Board member Kim Coco Iwamoto voted against the proposed changes because she said the school board is supposed to uphold the Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

“;If we are found to be wrong, the 'without cause' issue is not necessarily constitutional and we are recklessly going ahead anyway,”; she said.

Four opponents of the measure testified last night against modifying Chapter 19 of the state administrative rules to permit random searches of student lockers.

Criminologist Katherine Irwin testified that the drug-sniffing dog programs, which have been in use on the mainland since the 1990s, don't work.

Mandatory disciplinary action “;and drug-sniffing dog programs, in particular, are ineffective, drive a wedge between communities and schools, and cost school districts enormous sums in legal fees,”; said Irwin, a University of Hawaii associate professor of sociology.

Board member Mary Cochran, who voted in favor of the changes, said, “;I'm thinking about the 99 percent of the students who are entitled to an environment free of drugs, alcohol and guns and all the other paraphernalia that can harm them.”;

Board member Maggie Cox said, “;I just want to give more tools that are available (to school administrators). It doesn't mean they're going to have dogs running all over them.”;