by Adam Lipson
Last week Nyack High School announced a collaboration with the Clarkstown Police to perform “unannounced sweeps for drugs and any substances that are illegal” using trained police dogs. This latest tactic to combat drugs in the schools was announced in an open letter mailed to parents and posted online at NyackSchools.org.
While I applaud the school’s desire to keep drugs away from our children, I wonder how any working parent would feel if, while at work, our managers and police came through our offices unannounced with dogs to sniff us for drugs. I wonder how we would feel if the police were permitted to pull motorists off of the road, without probable cause, to sniff down and search our vehicles.
The United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. The practice of performing random inspections on school property may not violate the Fourth Amendment, but it certainly violates the spirit of the Fourth Amendment. Shouldn’t our children be afforded the same constitutional protections that their parents, grandparents and great grandparents fought to protect?
While it may be convenient to address a “potential” drug problem in the high school through unannounced broad sweeps, it behooves us to find a less convenient solution that targets only those who are exhibiting behavior consistent with drug use or distribution. The high school has smart guidance counselors, teachers and administrators who can identify and intervene where problems may exist.
The school is not only a place to educate our children. It also needs to mimic the adult life that our children will embark upon. The unannounced broad searches do not prepare them for their next steps into adulthood, but serves only to violate the sanctity of trust between the students and the administration. Simply said, it sends the wrong message to our children.
Sometimes the best solution isn’t the convenient solution!
Adam Lipson lives in Nyack, NY
December 9th, 2013
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you know, the welfare of our students and staff is one of our top priorities. In cooperation with the Clarkstown Police Department, the Nyack Board of Education is in support of our efforts to ensure our students with a safe place for learning. With that being said, dogs trained to locate drugs, members of the Clarkstown Police Department, school security aides, and members of the administrative team will be doing unannounced sweeps for drugs and any substances which are illegal and dangerous to our students in the future. The sweeps will be conducted while the students are in class or held outside of the building. The dogs are handled by trained members of the police department and will not have direct access to the students.
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. On behalf of the staff at Nyack High School, I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year.
Nicole Saieva, Principal