Drug sniffer dogs in schools

November 1st, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Northland headmaster has written to Prime Minister John Key expressing his concerns about banning drug sniffer dogs from schools, saying it is “short-sighted nonsense” and proposed new legislation was “nuts”.

The Education Amendment Bill, which was introduced to Parliament this month, aims to abolish the use of drug sniffer dogs and drug testing in schools.

The Ministry of Education says the changes will encourage safe learning environments without invasive methods.

Whangarei Boys’ High School headmaster Al Kirk has outlined his concerns to politicians Hekia Parata, Phil Heatley, Mike Sabin, Hone Harawira and John Key.

“I can tell you that WBHS is not supportive of the two amendments relating to drug tests and drug dogs. We are strongly opposed to these suggested changes. Schools will be left to pick up the pieces,” Mr Kirk said in his letter.

“I urge common sense and ask you think long and hard before supporting such retrograde changes.” 

He said safety of students would be compromised under the new regulations in some cases.

The school regularly had a drug sniffer dog go through the school and hostels.

“Surely to goodness, schools should be drug-free,” Mr Kirk said.

I have no idea why the Government is looking to ban these.

Of course you’d rather not have any drug testing or drug sniffer dogs at schools. But if a school thinks such measures are necessary to keep their school drug free, then they should be able to make those decisions.

I thought National was about more flexibility at school level?

UDATE: I’ve been sent some details about the rationale behind the bill. Basically is it that teachers are experts in teaching, not in drug detecting and enforcement. The legal situation has been unclear, hence the requirements in the bill. Teachers themselves will not be able to search bags (unless left in a locker), demand urine tests or use drug dogs.

However teachers can search school property such as lockers and desks. And if they have reasonable grounds to believe a student has an item which can endanger others or detrimentally affect the learning environment, they can demand it is given over (unclear if they can search for it if not given).

Drug dogs can be used, but not when students are present. Schools can bring the Police in to investigate if they think a student is under the influence. Also a Board can still require a suspended student to take a drug test to return to school – so long as the requirement is “reasonable”.

Okay I now understand the rationale behind the bill. I still have to say though that overall I still share the headmaster’s concern. In most schools this law will be fine. But there will be some schools with some pretty hardened drug sellers, and they will be able to evade detection if you can’t do random searches of bags at school.

This bill has just been introduced. The best thing is that people can submit to the select committee. So schools that feel this is too restrictive should say so, as Whangarei Boys’ has.

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23 Responses to “Drug sniffer dogs in schools”

  1. jaba (2,120 comments) says:

    at my work place, all new employees take a drug test before being accepted, all contractors take drug tests before being allowed on site, we have random drug tests an a daily basis, any incident requires those involved to be drug tested and we have the dogs on site occasionally .. I have no problem with it.
    Our kids seem to be infested with the drug culture so tests should be done in all schools

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  2. Longknives (4,686 comments) says:

    But enforcing drug laws is clearly racist and not in the spirit of the ‘Treaty’…

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  3. rolla_fxgt (311 comments) says:

    I’m not sure why they are doing it either, I can kind of understand the drug dog thing, as after all an employer can’t just run a drug dog through a work place for the hell of it, so why should schools be any different. But the banning of drug tests to test suspended students are clean before they come back is a dumb one.

    Because all it will take is a teacher or the unions taking a claim under the health and safety act for failing to provide a safe work place, aledging that the school can’t provide a safe drug free work place, where the school can prove that the student is drug free on return, and thus represents a risk to the health and safety of the staff, which as their employer the school needs to take seriously. And also could possibly be charged with failing to protect the health and safety of their customers (students), by allowing a drug user to be back at school with reasonable suspicion they are still under the influence of drugs.
    The school will be prosecuted as such, and the govt will have to change the law again to allow schools to drug test students for reasonable cause, and require a clean drug test to allow their return to the school.
    And remember fines keep going up for repeat offenders for breaches of health and safety laws.
    Well unless the govt is stupid and wants to risk having a reasonable chunk of the education budget being paid out in fines to the labour department.

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  4. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Well one of the main frecken reasons we need extreme measures is because of all the primitive and paranoid humane fecken rights legislation that NATIONAL brought in in the early 90s so teachers cant search bags because it is infringing the little dears “personal liberty”.

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  5. RRM (9,784 comments) says:

    What’s Donnie ‘One Love’ Brash up to these days?

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,282 comments) says:

    I thought National was about more flexibility at school level?

    I’m surprised you’ve never heard of “National Standards”.

    [DPF: They are flexible - they do not mandate a national or standardised test. They merely require an assessment against a national standard]

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  7. backster (2,141 comments) says:

    More Politically correct nonsense, the sort Judge France would uphold. How could National possibly support it. What would be the point of Charter Schools if they are to be enmeshed in this kind of nonsense.

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  8. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    On somone’s else’s property in their job…? Then expect to be tested……… the rest of the time…..piss off out of my life plod.

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  9. Reid (16,227 comments) says:

    I have no idea why the Government is looking to ban these.

    Because the idiots in the Education Ministry got a legal opinion that said such searches contravened a student’s human rights and the mental fools didn’t understand that hey, maybe in this case, since young minds and drugs don’t mix, ever, that maybe in this case it was OK… This sort of stupidity is what Parata is supposed to be stopping, it’s what a minister is there for, but instead, she appears to have turned as mental as the advisers in her ministry.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2536697/principal-dismayed-by-move-to-ban-drug-dogs-and-drug-tests.asx

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  10. Akaroa (552 comments) says:

    Well, I’m totally bemused!. I take it that the move to ban drug dogs has come from the education industry, ie the teachers, or, at least, at their urging or behest?. If it hasn’t I apologise to teachers.

    But what is it with teachers these days?. To read news items about their antipathy towards their Minister, their opposition to sensible proposals to close down a few ChCh schools now that a fair percentage of pupils have gone and are unlikely to return to that unlucky City, one would wonder who is actually overseeing and managing the education sector.

    The teachers I knew when I was making my faltering way through the system were people of integrity and sound values with the welfare of their pupils as their first priority. But that was just after the War and society had had a wake-up call as to its true values and real priorities.

    (And I do mean pupils btw. NOT ‘students’ for goodness sake!! You only become a ‘student’ when you get to University!!)

    These days, and looking at the education sector from a lay viewpoint with – thank goodness – children who have grown up and are out of reach of all those clearly politicised teachers, it reminds me more and more of the old fifties trade union scene in UK.

    No vision, no flexibility, no ability to reach reasonable compromises. Pure dogma. Get out in the real World, teacher, and see what life’s really all about!!

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  11. Akaroa (552 comments) says:

    Oh, I forgot to make it clear that my previous comments were not aimed at the good conscientious hard-working teachers – of whom, I know, there are many.

    As for the others – they know who they are!!i

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  12. Griff (7,380 comments) says:

    Young kid smokes pot outside of school time Gets caught and kicked out of school. leaves him on the shit pile for life
    Good idea…… eh
    Young kid I employed last year was in this group He is heading for the scrap pile cause if you do drugs that are not piss you are demonised. Perfectly OK if the board room has a piss cabinet so the management can be pissed in charge of a business or whinny turns up and makes our laws pissed because piss is legal.Testing for cannabis will pick up the use of drugs well after the time they have an effect yet someone hung over or taking p will show up clean the next day.

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  13. Manolo (13,518 comments) says:

    Is electric puha considered taonga?

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  14. Elaycee (4,356 comments) says:

    @Griff – Stop being daft.

    You need to learn to differentiate between someone using legal products such as alcohol and someone using illegal substances [insert name of illegal product here]. And if someone decides of their own free will to indulge in something illegal, they need to harden up and accept the consequences of their own unlawful actions when they are caught and convicted.

    Ain’t life a bitch.

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  15. lastmanstanding (1,279 comments) says:

    What a wonderful society NZ has become (NOT) We now have little kids doing drugs and pushing drugs in school. This is exmaple 3487 of the break down in our society the fualt of the limp wristed so called liberals anything goes to hell with it morons that have been allowed to control the dimiution of standards.
    Why are we surprised with 120 oddballs in the Parliament most of them lacking the guts to take a real leadership stance. Instead they bow down and cow tow to the lowest common demoniators.

    The sad thing is that anyone who stands up for good morals and ethics is laughed at and belittled no doubt like my post will be by the morons who then wonder why they are the victims of crime yet cant see their pathetic little mentality is the cause of their misfortune.

    Solution. Kids that have or do drugs. Lock up their parent or the oxymoron care givers. Give the little bastards a dozen strokes of the rotan and a lecture that puts the fear of God into the little bastards.

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  16. Tharg (15 comments) says:

    @dpfdpf. I basically agree with you and Al Kirk on this post, which isn’t an everyday occurrence. The ability to test students who have been suspended for drugs is widely used, worthwhile and almost always part of a programme of counselling to help address the problem. It gives the school a bit of steel to encourage students and their parents to take it seriously – what the new legislation does is say it’s ok for schools to ‘request’ the tests, but kids can just refuse with no come-back for the school. Not so sure on the sniffer dogs through schools issue – the state requires kids to be at school so it’s not quite the same as work-place drug testing.
    @Akaroa. Nope, this didn’t come from teachers at all. The initial intent of this section of the legislation, as we (and I work for a teachers’ union ) understood it was to make clear what teachers’ and schools’ powers around search and seizure are – something that has required work for a while. To some extent it does this – but at no point during the consultation was this asked for by us or other teacher/principal groups – or even discussed as it seemed to be more about sections 13-19 of the Education Act on stand-downs, suspensions etc… This would seem to have come from YouthLaw and the Minstry’s own legal advice.

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  17. Reid (16,227 comments) says:

    …if they have reasonable grounds to believe a student has an item which can endanger others or detrimentally affect the learning environment, they can demand it is given over (unclear if they can search for it if not given).

    How the hell are they supposed to find out if a student’s got a tinny in his or her bag if they’re not allowed to use the very thing that would tell them?

    I mean how mental are the policy idiots and the MPs, that they don’t get the very elementary fact that the younger the brain, the worse effect drugs will have on it. Drug use is an A-1 emergency for a kid. Lots of kids do it, this doesn’t make it right. I’ve known people who started smoking heavily when they were only 13 and their cognitive functions are shot to hell, permanently. Reams of medical research explains all of this.

    But no. Rather than looking at the science the idiots and fools instead munt on about the student’s “human wights” and wing their hands and rend their clothes at the twagedy this violation bwings about. Well farken hell, what about the tragedy of condemning a human being to a life of low paid work because in their immaturity, they simply didn’t know what they were doing to themselves? I suppose if you put that proposition to the mentals, their answer would be, well then, we’ll just educate them by explaining to 12-17 year olds how tewwible dwugs are and that will fix evewything, because 12-17 year olds are only little adults, and we should treat them like they are. And then none of them will ever do it again, never ever. Hooway!

    The worst part is, Parata is supposed to be conservative. You expect this from lefties, they’re all mental, but conservatives as well?

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  18. Bob R (1,362 comments) says:

    ***Okay I now understand the rationale behind the bill. I still have to say though that overall I still share the headmaster’s concern. In most schools this law will be fine. But there will be some schools with some pretty hardened drug sellers, and they will be able to evade detection if you can’t do random searches of bags at school.***

    Exactly, I would have expected National to demonstrate slightly more common sense and pragmatism than this.

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  19. DJP6-25 (1,362 comments) says:

    Just another of the many downsides of seventy years of socialisim and relativisim.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  20. Alan Wilkinson (1,868 comments) says:

    From what I’ve heard about Whangarei high schools they are disaster areas. So I’m sceptical about any pronouncements from them. I’m pretty sure this headmaster is one who is adamantly opposed to decriminalisation of pot as well. I’m guessing his intellectual cupboard contains a large pile of sticks and not many carrots.

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  21. Reid (16,227 comments) says:

    I’m pretty sure this headmaster is one who is adamantly opposed to decriminalisation of pot as well.

    Do you know that Alan or are you just conflating his position on the drug dogs with those politics?

    It’s just I support decriminalisation but I also support drug dogs in all schools, in fact, I’d make it compulsory, all the time.

    This is because adults are not school children and decriminalisation is addressed at adults, not school children. Where school children are concerned, I’m quite happy to take every single measure one can, to reduce as much as possible any drug use whatsoever. This is because I don’t believe people under 17 are capable of formulating wise policies for themselves. They’re just not.

    So I don’t see it as a “violation” to take measures that conserve, not degrade them, as human beings.

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  22. Steve (North Shore) (4,544 comments) says:

    “Drug dogs can be used, but not when students are present. Schools can bring the Police in to investigate if they think a student is under the influence. Also a Board can still require a suspended student to take a drug test to return to school – so long as the requirement is “reasonable”.”
    Not when the students are present? why not? These are High School students and they deal/supply drugs. They sure as fuck don’t leave the drugs at school for the sniffer dogs to find; they take the drugs down the park and deal after school.
    For drug dealers, learning is a sideline – if they can learn

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  23. Alan Wilkinson (1,868 comments) says:

    Reid, I may be wrong as I can’t locate the reference from several years ago. I recall a Whangarei school principal quoted speaking out strongly against it but now I can’t be sure who it was.

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