The Hatters' Herald

Students bark at admin over K-9 search

Police+K-9+officers%2C+administrators+and+safety+advocates+conducted+a+drug+search+of+cars+in+the+student+parking+lot+on+Feb.+5+during+a+lockdown+drill.
Police K-9 officers, administrators and safety advocates conducted a drug search of cars in the student parking lot on Feb. 5 during a lockdown drill.

Police K-9 officers, administrators and safety advocates conducted a drug search of cars in the student parking lot on Feb. 5 during a lockdown drill.

File Photo

File Photo

Police K-9 officers, administrators and safety advocates conducted a drug search of cars in the student parking lot on Feb. 5 during a lockdown drill.

Taylor Hay

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Principal Dan Donovan recently worked alongside the city police, K-9’s and the school’s safety advocates to conduct a drug search within the school, and for the first time in DHS history, the student parking lot.

Although many students reacted to the surprise lockdown and K-9 search with apprehension and anger, Donovan assured that his intention was “not to get students arrested.” Instead, his primary motivation was to encourage students to leave their paraphernalia at home. “As soon as [someone] drives onto school property, I reserve the right to search their car,” Donovan said.

Donovan would not release information about how many vehicles were searched, what was found, and how many students, if any, were disciplined or how they were disciplined. The search was conducted Feb. 5.

According to the Constitutional Administration of Connecticut, “State law gives individuals slightly greater protection than federal law from warrantless searches of cars by prohibiting police from searching cars that they impound without a warrant. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that the state constitution, article first, § 7, prohibits warrantless searches of impounded cars even when the searches are supported by probable cause.” Many students have been citing this information as a way to accuse Donovan of breaking the law, or going against their Fourth Amendment rights.

However, Donovan explains that he has the legal authority to search any car that is “marked” by a drug-trained canine, due to the agreement that is signed when a student signs up for a parking permit.

I don’t think what I do off school grounds should influence how I am treated at school”

— Joshua Cruz, junior

“My car was searched and they didn’t find anything” said a student who wishes to remain anonymous. “I felt completely violated in the process, because I knew that there was nothing in my car. I don’t want to come to school every day feeling like I might be accused of doing drugs, especially if they bring my parents into it.”

Another student took a similar approach in critiquing the school’s administration. “I share my car with two of my older siblings. One of them might decide to smoke in the car with their friends, and then I drive it to school the following day. I honestly don’t care if there is ‘no action taken’ by administration for a smell, but my mom shouldn’t be getting called by my principal because my older brother smokes weed in the family car,” senior Jessie Pereira said. “What if he had left a ‘clip’ in the glove compartment or something like that? I can run the risk of getting suspended for drugs when I’ve never touched one in my life.”

These types of searches are a common concern among the student body, not because they feel like they may be caught, but because they feel that they may be wrongfully searched. “I don’t think what I do off school grounds should influence how I am treated at school. I have never once come to school on drugs, and I am not saying that I’ve ever done them, but if I chose to do them off school grounds [in my car], then I shouldn’t have to be scared of my principal bringing dogs to school to get us all in trouble,” said junior Joshua Cruz.

Some students have the concern that if they are caught actually smoking by the cops at the movies or the mall, they won’t receive as harsh of a punishment as if there is simply a scent of marijuana in their car on campus.

If there is any amount or evidence of marijuana in a car that’s parked on campus, a student will face suspension, a call home, and possible arrest.

“Why is it that my social life outside of school impacts the way I’m viewed at school, if I’ve never once came to school high?” tweeted Catherine Sombra, a former student of DHS. In a follow-up tweet she said, “I am so lucky that I graduated before the staff decided to be extra. Last year I thought they were pushing it by locking down and searching the lockers.”

It’s been a common occurrence for students to feel victimized in the wake of a surprise search of their cars. “I don’t think that the administration should bring dogs to the schools; it truly feels like they’re just trying to get kids arrested,” Gabriel Lopez, senior, said.

Although it may feel like a violation of privacy, Donovan says that it’s simply to ensure that nobody brings drugs into Danbury’s campus from this point onward.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Students bark at admin over K-9 search”

  1. Dylan Detzer on March 5th, 2018 5:30 pm

    Putting the school in lock down for drug sniffing dogs to come is the worst way to go when DHS doesn’t even do frequent lock downs, when a lock down happens kids are gonna start assuming its drug sniffing dogs and find it as away to do what ever they want since they know they are not really practicing for a actual real lock down. DHS needs to start doing more practices on lock downs then just throwing the school into lock down for drug sniffing dogs, if they don’t want kids around when drug sniffing dogs are out just put the school in a secure and hold which is the students stay in classrooms and continue work without leaving the classroom, don’t put the school in lock down for drug sniffing dogs,lock downs are meant something more serious and dangerous to the students and staff and DHS should start doing lock downs at least once a month along with the fire drills that they usually do once a month

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Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800
Students bark at admin over K-9 search