Editorial Board, February 2009 through May 2009
- Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Paul Hughes, community representative
- Gail Smith, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs Allowing a drug-sniffing dog to check student lockers and vehicles at Steamboat Springs High School is a reasonable and potentially effective method for reducing the presence of narcotics on school grounds.
It's unfortunate such a step is even necessary, but the level of drug use among our high school and middle school students appears to warrant it. Just past the halfway mark of the 2008-09 school year, the district already has seen twice as many students recommended for expulsion because of drug- or alcohol-related violations than it did during the 2007-08 school year. At the high school, 12 students have faced expulsion for drugs or alcohol. About half that many are facing expulsion at Steamboat Springs Middle School.
Anonymous student surveys conducted in recent years also point to a substantial drug problem. Survey results have revealed that as many as half of all high school students have smoked marijuana, and about 20 percent have experimented with harder drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
"We do have a problem," Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said. "We're not going to tolerate it."
It would be naÃive to think a K-9 unit sniffing school lockers and vehicles parked in the school parking lot will end drug use among our teens. But what it will do is help ensure a safe, drug-free environment within the walls of our high school - and that's something we believe all students should be provided, particularly those who choose a drug-free lifestyle.
Some will argue that drug-sniffing dogs in our schools violate the Fourth Amendment and students' right to privacy and that students shouldn't be subjected to unreasonable or unwarranted searches. However, the courts have ruled that using a trained drug-sniffing dog to indiscriminately search the outside of student lockers and vehicles doesn't constitute an illegal search, nor does it violate their right to privacy. Court rulings have taken an opposite stance when dogs are brought into contact with students for search purposes.
School officials have made clear that students themselves will not be searched or brought in contact with the drug dogs. Instead, the dog will be walked through school hallways while students are kept in classrooms.
Cunningham hopes the searches turn up no drugs but that they send a clear message to students.
"I just want to send the message that alcohol and drugs are not to be on campus," Cunningham said. "They're not conducive to a safe learning environment."
Communities expect their schools to be drug-free zones, and Steamboat Springs should be no different. Bringing a drug-sniffing dog on the high school campus won't keep teens from using illicit drugs, but it might help keep those drugs off school grounds. That's a goal worth supporting.