By Alfa · Feb 21, 2005 · ·
  1. Alfa

    A claim that her civil rights were being violated got Pleasant Valley High School junior Meghann Trott suspended for three days.

    A drug-sniffing dog visited the school for a random drug check Tuesday afternoon and Trott refused to leave her belongings in Dan Beadle's sixth-period science class. She claimed it violated her civil rights to be subjected to random searches.

    According to Ginger Picchi, assistant principal, the dogs are provided by an outside service and have been used at both Pleasant Valley and Chico high schools since the beginning of the 2004-05 school year.

    The decision to use Interquest Detection Canines at the high schools was approved by the Chico Unified School District's board of trustees in August 2004.

    Picchi explained that the school conducted assemblies in the fall to inform the students about the process.

    "This is the first student who has refused," said Picchi, and she had not heard complaints from any others. "Students have been very receptive."

    The inspections are unannounced, Picchi said, and the administration isn't even warned. Typically, the dog and handler visit three or four classrooms, accompanied by an assistant principal or the campus supervisor. The students are asked to leave the classroom with the teacher, leaving all their belongings in place. The entire process takes about five minutes.

    Often the dogs are taken to the parking lot to sniff the vehicles there, too.

    Trott said she was concerned about the school policy that allowed dogs to check for drugs on campus, so she contacted the American Civil Liberties Union about the issue and received a letter in return.

    She believed the letter had also been sent to the administrators of all high schools in Chico, and according to Trott, the ACLU supported her belief that she had the right to refuse random searches.

    When searches were done in the past, Trott said, she wasn't in the classrooms inspected.

    After a meeting with Picchi and PV Principal Michael Rupp, at which time she refused to open her backpack for them, Trott was suspended for defiance of authority.

    Trott said Rupp declared she had no right to refuse to leave her backpack in the classroom.

    Picchi said the defiance included her refusal to open the backpack.

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  1. enquirewithin
    This is a very worrying story! I hope that the rest of the world does not follow this path to 'freedom.'
  2. turfshark_40
    Good for her. That kind of thing just serves to put young people on the defensive since they are being treated as criminals who are guilty until proven innocent.
  3. Salim
    Ah yes, America, the land of the free.
  4. Df1337
    The same procedure was used to search my highschool. However it
    was a private school, so we had no rights at all. Another private
    highschool in my hometown I have heard has even began randomly drug
    testing its students. This school is a catholic military school
    if thats of any surprise to you.
  5. sands of time
    Drug dogs were used in my school as well. Whenever they would do a search it gave you a feeling of worry, even though you don't have anything on you or in a locker, ect. They never used the dogs to search students in my school however.
  6. enquirewithin
    Interesting! Are the dogs used to search your belongings then?
  7. sands of time
    Not unless they pick up a scent in your locker, vehicle, ect.
  8. elbow
    I am so relieved that I am no longer in high school! I am writing an
    article about the increased use of biometric surveillance in American
    schools, the kind of technology that uses the body to follow you, for
    example iris scans and fingerprint scans and all that. It is not yet so
    severe in high schools, but some places are </span>making
    students carry tracking devices (like an ID card that you have to swipe
    to get into different parts of the campus so they know where you are at
    all times) and even those video cameras that recognize faces.

    As the war on drugs has intensified, so has the general surveillance of
    society and schools in particular. People are being told it is for
    their choldren's safety, but really young people are being trained to
    accept dramatics limitations on their basic freedoms: of movement, of
    assembly, and of privacy.

    I've seen copies of my high school's yearbook from the '70's and there
    was an open campus and the yearbook actually had some pretty obvious
    drug references. In my time there, the early '90's, the campus was
    closed but it was fairly easy to leave once in a while and we could
    smoke cigarettes right across the street. Of course now the kids can't
    ever leave campus and can't smoke anywhere near the place, I don't know
    if they are using the serious tactics like drug dogs and random

    I'm glad that at least one high school student had the guts to refuse to be searched.
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