STUDENT'S "DEFIANCE" LEADS TO SUSPENSION
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.