Northport Schools Notebook: Drug Sniffing Dogs, Special Education

A round-up of topics covered at the June 4 BOE meeting.

Badanes Remains Opposed to Drug Sweeps

Newly elected trustee David Badanes again expressed his opposition to
random drug sweeps at Northport High School during the June 4 BOE meeting, asserting that the use of drug sniffing dogs was not only illegal but ineffective. The district has been as part of a program offered through the Suffolk County Police Department.

Badanes, an attorney, had noted his opposition to the proposed drug sweeps during the forum in May. At the June 4 meeting, he said he believed students do have a reasonable right to expect privacy and was concerned that drugs could be planted in lockers. "I think it sends the wrong tone." He also suggested that the Board table the discussion of the district's locker policy until new Board members are sworn in.

District attorney Chris Powers disagreed with Badanes' arguments, citing New Jersey v. T.L.O., in which the Supreme Court held that student searches are permitted as long as there is reaonable suspicion. A dog "indicating"  to a locker during a random drug sweep would be considered reasonable suspicion.

Powers said as long as students are put on notice through the district's student handbook, "It's crystal clear." As for possible lawsuits, he said, "I have had searches that have netted weapons and drugs.  I haven't seen any challenges."

Badanes said he was still opposed to the sweeps, which could begin in the fall.

Special Education Report

Director of Special Education Christina Pulaski gave an overview of the  program. There are 867 Special Education students in the district, with 765 enrolled in district programs. A PDF of the presentation is attached to this article.

On the State Report Card, Norwood Avenue Elementary School made "adequate yearly progress but with safe harbor" under special education, meaning that the school met the benchmark goal but not the state goal. Pulaski Road did not make AYP.

Both principals expressed frustration with yearly tests.  "It's the day-to-day assessments that we go by," Pulaski Principal Jeffrey Haubrich noted. 

Norwood Principal Michael Genovese said it was "unfair and unreasonable"  to put so much emphasis on annual tests, noting that his staff utilizes NWEA assessments and running records to more accurately determine a student's progress. "We"re talking about each student as an individual." He noted that he had added more staff and smaller group opportunities in response to the state report.


concerned parent June 17, 2012 at 04:10 AM
What happens if there is a seach of a locker by a drug sniffing dog and drugs are found and someone planted them in a locker as a joke lets say... Then you are going to have a real friggin problem. Especially when the law suites start to fly... Then who is going to pay for the district to represent itself in court even if we use the school attorney. We are the tax payers!!! Unless you can say that the lockers will be under 24 hour security camera sullivance so we can see who planted the drugs in the first place then I say no!!! oh wait if the lockers are under 24 hour security sullivance then we can see if the kids are putting the drugs in them in the first place right? Don't all hallways have cameras in them already?
danielle distasi July 07, 2012 at 06:02 PM
lets not loose sight ....the "real friggen problem " is the drugs are in the school...in the lockers..in the pockets...and therefore in body and minds of the students.. ya know..our children !!! no law suit, or attorney. or legistlature or judge can change a thing once a teen is ADDICTED to a substance.....it basically the death of that child and is unbearable for them to fight back. LET THE DOGS SNIFF AND LET THOSE WHO WANT TO CLEAN UP THE SCHOOL DO WHAT THEY DO BEST. noone can plant stuff in a locker if they cants bring it in the school in the first place.


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