Schools may get drug dogs

July 09, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Following the lead of other Franklin County school districts, the Waynesboro Area School District may bring drug-sniffing police dogs into the schools for random checks, Superintendent Robert Mesaros said.

The district school board discussed the proposal at Tuesday's meeting and is expected to decide at its next meeting, Mesaros said. The members want a policy that includes informing all students at the beginning of the year that their schools will be subject to random searches by the dogs, Mesaros said.

The district's schools have had few problems with illegal drug use among students, Mesaros said. "This will be another tool, a precautionary measure," he said.


According to school board policy, a student can be suspended for 10 days for a first-offense violation of rules against use of drugs or alcohol on school property. The board can expel a student on a second offense, Mesaros said.

Only one Waynesboro area student, a girl, has been suspended for violating school rules banning drugs and alcohol on campus since 1993, Mesaros said. Officials found marijuana in her locker. Her second offense involved alcohol, Mesaros said.

Those incidents occurred in the Franklin County Area Vocational Technical School, he said.

Reports of drug activity around schools by area police agencies prompted the board's consideration of the random-check policy in effect, Mesaros said.

"We don't know the extent of the problem," he said. "But we don't deny it. The administration controls things very well, but with 1,400 students there's no doubt there's some activity. Schools reflect what goes on in the community."

Waynesboro Chief Glenn Phenicie said he knows of no problems of drug and alcohol use in the schools. "There used to be, but the administrators took a hard stance and cracked down in it a few years ago," he said.

He said students are using drugs and alcohol before and after school, and that his department files an average of one juvenile petition per month.

"It's not an everyday thing, but it's not rare either," he said. "Usually it's for marijuana and paraphernalia. We're probably only catching a small percentage."

Phenicie said most cases involve high school students.

"There hasn't been a whole lot around middle school kids," he said.

He also said many of the incidents occur during routine traffic stops involving juvenile drivers and their passengers. "We find drugs in their cars," Phenicie said.

Officials in other Franklin County school districts said drug-sniffing dogs are being used in random checks in their schools.

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