Most Davis secondary school principals are reluctant to implement Davis School District's drug-sniffing dog policy and say the drug problem will have to get a lot worse in their schools before they use it.
A check with school district officials and secondary school principals shows only two schools, North Layton and Central Davis Junior High Schools, have had dogs in their schools since the school board approved the policy last April. Clearfield High School wants a dog to visit.While the board has supported the policy, including to vote Tuesday night to expand the policy to include parking lot searches, principals have not been motivated to use it. Nothing in the policy mandates they do.
"Viewmont has not used it, because in my opinion, we need to identify a particular problem or area before we use it. I believe we could use it to solve a problem, but not before we had intense community awareness," Viewmont High Principal Paul Waite said. "That's not to say they're isn't a drug problem at Viewmont."
Waite said he believes the drug problem needs to become more pronounced before he asks law enforcement officers to bring the dogs in. He said he would have used the dogs three or four years ago when he feels drug use was much more widespread.
Principals at Davis and Woods Cross High Schools registered similar opinions about using the dogs.
"We have not used them, but I am in favor of them at certain times," Woods Cross Principal Wally Hawkins said. "I had information that students were selling drugs then I would use it."
School Board Member Bob Thurgood said the way most principals are using the policy isn't what the school board intended. Thurgood, a major proponent of the policy, believes that principals are reluctant because they don't want their schools labeled as havens for drug abuse.
"That was not the intent of the policy. It was my hope that we were giving them a tool that would be used immediately. If there is only one locker in the school with drugs in it, then there is a drug problem," Thurgood said.
Thurgood said he plans to individually visit with each principal to persuade them to start using the dogs. However, he said he doesn't support putting more teeth in the policy to mandate how often principals have dogs check their schools.
Clearfield High Principal Tamara Lowe said her school is planning a lunch-hour program where a drug-sniffing dog would be introduced to students. However, her plans have run into a snag, said Thurgood, who represents the school area. Clearfield Police Department's drug dog was recently killed, he said.
Central Davis Junior High Principal Larry Millward said Layton Police Department's visit with a drug-sniffing dog to his school this fall was a positive experience. He said, while he doesn't believe there is a drug problem at his school, the idea that dogs will periodically check is a deterrent to students.