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Smithsburg students charged after search

February 17, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM and KAREN HANNA

SMITHSBURG - Maryland State Police charged two Smithsburg High School students Thursday with drug possession after K-9s searched student vehicles in the school's parking lot.

Two police dogs scanned 103 vehicles and alerted that three possibly had drugs inside, police said.

Two students - one juvenile and one adult - were charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, police said. The students' names were not released Thursday.

The youth was released to his parents, and the adult student was issued a criminal citation and released, police said.

The vehicle scan was part of a scheduled search by Maryland State Police, said Robert "Bo" Myers, executive director for secondary school administration.

"The principal will call the agencies and set it up. There was nothing that precipitated it. It was scheduled," Myers said.

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Police said school administrators requested the drug scan, and there most likely was a reason for the search.

Typically, police K-9s check the outside of schools as well as the common areas and hallways inside the schools, Myers said. Students are told their vehicles are subject to search if authorities find reasonable cause, he said.

K-9s check around the vehicles, and if they indicate they have picked up the scent of drugs, Myers said police may search inside the vehicles.

"Basically, school property and anything that's on school property can be searched if, in fact, there's reasonable suspicion," Myers said.

Possessing, using or distributing drugs on school property is a category-three offense, Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said. Students who have committed a category-three offense are subject to suspension, expulsion or placement into an alternative setting, she said.

Students who have committed drug or alcohol offenses are referred to the Washington County Health Department to participate in drug-education programs, Myers said.

The police searches are designed to be proactive, Mowen said.

"I would say it's standard operating procedure at each of the high schools to have them in at least once a year," Mowen said.

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