The Case for Drug Dogs

By Stan Fendley
June 6, 2011

Last week Falls Church News Press columnist Michael Gardner criticized Falls Church City public school officials for the recent use of police dogs to sniff backpacks at George Mason High School.

Gardner drew a stark picture of the use of drug dogs, saying “The incidences of misuse of dogs; where the animals caused elementary-age children to involuntarily urinate themselves, or poorly trained dogs bit students, or vaguely documented alerts led to strip searches of teenage girls, should give parents pause.”

Huh?  What’s he talking about?  That’s not what’s going on at George Mason.  As Gardner himself points out, in the recent search at GMHS, school officials kept the dogs separated from the students.  The students were instructed to bring their backpacks to the hallway — and then return to class.  Then the dogs were brought in to sniff the backpacks.  When a dog alerted on a backpack, the student owner was called to the school office to discuss the contents of the backpack, and the student’s parents were contacted.  The dogs did not come in contact with the students – and thus, there was no occasion for the parade of horribles Gardner suggests.  No dog bites, no urination, no strip searches.  Given the care that was taken to keep the dogs away from the students, I believe it is unfair to suggest that FC school officials may begin to use dogs in an irresponsible fashion.

Mr. Gardner also makes the charge that the search was poorly executed, but in my view, the opposite seems true.  First, GMHS Principal Tyrone Byrd gave students and parents fair notice some time ago that dogs would be used to search for drugs.  Then, when proceeding with the search, he used trained narcotics detection dogs to conduct sniff tests, a technique blessed by the U.S. Supreme Court almost 30 years ago.  In addition, Byrd has kept parents apprised with email messages providing significant detail.  In my view, that kind of forethought and follow-through indicate good execution, not the reverse.

Byrd is right not to report the detailed results of the search to the community, notwithstanding Mr. Gardner’s call for a report.  Although some may want to know the details, privacy considerations dictate otherwise.  Sharing such information with anyone other than need-to-know school administrators, school board officials, and law enforcement officials could subject the schools and City to even more lawsuits than we already face in other areas.  Given the City’s experience with recent litigation, Byrd is to be commended for avoiding more of it.  [As Gerald Pressman points out in his comment below, it may be in order for Byrd to report generalities, such as numbers, percentages, or funding of the costs.  Personal information,  however, should remain confidential unless release is required at some point — for example, as a matter of law enforcement.] 

Let’s be honest – we have drug issues at GMHS, and it is the duty of school officials to deal with them.   The safeguards Mr. Gardner prefers — teachers, parental communications, attendance polices, health screenings, and counseling programs — are all good and necessary, but they do not serve the purpose of keeping drugs out of school in the first place.  For that purpose,  the use of drug dogs to sniff backpacks while students are in class may well be the most effective and least threatening technique available.  It provides universal scrutiny on an equal basis, provides deterrence going forward, and avoids physical threat.

If there are alternative methods to be considered, great, but they must be effective and efficient.  We cannot afford for school officials’ time and attention to be inordinately consumed by the few students who bring drugs to school, to the detriment of the many who stay away from drugs and just want to get a good education.  Given the availability of a tool like trained drug dogs which can sniff hundreds of backpacks in minutes, it is reasonable for school officials to use them.

As a parent of a GMHS student, I appreciate the work of Principal Byrd and other school officials to keep drugs out.  It’s one of the most important duties they have, and I urge them to continue their vigilant efforts to accomplish it.


50 Responses to “The Case for Drug Dogs”

  1. CR Sanders on June 6th, 2011 6:28 am

    Thanks for your thoughtful article, Stan.
    I, too, applaud Mr. Byrd and the school’s decision in tackling the drug problem at George Mason head on, but with fair warning and safeguards in place.
    There are some school districts (in New Jersey, for example) which require random drug screening as a condition to allowing a high school student to participate in any extra-curricular activities. Thank goodness we are not at that point.

  2. S. Kokuuslu, Falls Church on June 6th, 2011 7:32 am

    I couldn’t agree more. Mr. Byrd executed a well thought out plan to convey a message to the students without affording them the public embarrassment. Like you said, effective and efficient.

  3. Grace Taylor Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 7:43 am

    Thank you Stan for taking the time and effort to set the article in proper perspective.
    Mr Byrd and the school officials handled the situation with integrity and forethoughts.
    Measures have to be taken to keep GMHS drug-free.

  4. GERALD PRESSMAN on June 6th, 2011 8:26 am

    DOGS, DOGS, IN THE SCHOOL, LOOKING FOR DRUGS??? …”a technique blessed by the U.S. Supreme Court almost 30 years ago”. WELL, THAT CERTAINLY MAKES IT RIGHT.


    ” We cannot afford for school officials’ time and attention to be inordinately consumed by the few students who bring drugs to school, to the detriment of the many who stay away from drugs and just want to get a good education” YOU BET…SO, WHY BRING IN DOGS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

  5. GERALD PRESSMAN – CITY OF FALLS CHURCH on June 6th, 2011 8:28 am


    DOGS, DOGS, IN THE SCHOOL, LOOKING FOR DRUGS??? …”a technique blessed by the U.S. Supreme Court almost 30 years ago”. WELL, THAT CERTAINLY MAKES IT RIGHT.


    ” We cannot afford for school officials’ time and attention to be inordinately consumed by the few students who bring drugs to school, to the detriment of the many who stay away from drugs and just want to get a good education” YOU BET…SO, WHY BRING IN DOGS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

  6. Cathy Quinn Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 9:03 am

    Mr. Byrd is a wise man. The searches are necessary in today’s world. Students at GM have been using drugs for years. Actually, METRO among other things, provides easy access.

    As a retired Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in the community, I know that it has been an issue for some time and applaud the effort to protect the majority who are not drug users.

    The way in which the search was done sounds most appropriate. Protect our kids – they are the future of Falls Church. To do that all members of the community need to be aware of signs of drug use and dealing . Reporting inappropriate behavior – while not being vigilantes. Perhaps editorial on that would be worth while.

  7. Michael Baker on June 6th, 2011 9:46 am

    Missed the entire point – the use of the “Reasonable Suspicion” arguement (as Dr. Berlin express to me) means that all of the George Mason student body was considered guilty until proven innocent. If they had real eveidence against any individuals, the search would not have had to have been so pervasive.

    Also, parents were not told until afterwords – they should have been notified immediately at “lockdown” so that they could be on-site if their children had to deal directly with law enforcement (apparently no thought was given to the requirements for parents or social services to be with minors involved with the legal system). If I had been called due to the results of the search,after the fact, it still would have left my child, alone with law enforcement, without legal representation, for over an hour. And what about the seniors who wre over 18, were they Merandized before the search? School decision not with standing, they might have been denied legal rights as adults.

    In light of the recent statements as to the success of the “War on Drugs,” is this the best use of resources – police state tactics. All that was missing is the request for papers, long black leather trench coats, and silver lightning bolts on their collars. Pity they weren’t still studying the 1930’s and 40’s in Europe – they got a live-action demonstration of the abuse of police powers.

    We’ve all heard there is a drug problem at GMHS, how big – by what information? Adult reading of Facebook postings??? Principal Byrd all but admitted this was done to be seen “doing something” against a largely contained problem. I don’t know about you, but most of the GMHS students we know have so much going on in their lives that don’t have time for drugs – hurts their GPA. I suspect alcohol is much more of an abused drug.

    This was a “Heavy hand’ abuse of parential authority, in typical school administration action, that basically proved the Fall Church public school system can panic and overact with the best of them. I am glad to see others in the community also feel this was an overreaction and an unecessary action against a problem I believe is not as bad as some would have us believe. If there is EVIDENCE of real drug use in the community, by GMHS students, then that information needs to be shared before any more taxpayer funds are wasted on another wild-goose chase.

  8. soccermom on June 6th, 2011 10:11 am

    I think Mike Baker is off on this one….nothing of what he is saying happened actually happened. He’s kind of making things up. No Police ever spoke to any students. NO cops were ever “alone with students”. The dogs walked past, teachers took the bags that were found, and the Police left. My daughter watched one such action by our school officials. She said all the kids in her class were laughing about it, except the one boy she knew who routinely brings drugs to school. She said he looked very nervous….GOOD!

  9. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 10:48 am

    @Gerald Pressman, I think you’re right in one respect — My statement that Byrd should not provide a report is an overstatement. It certainly may be appropriate for him to provide general information such as numbers, percentages, or funding, and I have added that clarification in brackets. Thanks for making the point.

    Stan Fendley

  10. Barry Buschow on June 6th, 2011 10:57 am

    The only problem is that this procedure is not done enough! This procedure is over 10 years old when no notice was given at all. Now they tell you practically the day it happens and kids still bring the stuff to school. As a member of the old CADRE parent group I am glad they do it and have refined the practice, and believe the search should be MORE frequent…..

  11. Karen Hoofnagle – Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 12:49 pm

    Stan, by what measures do we have a drug problem at George Mason? Can you quantify the size of the problem in a meaningful and comparative way? I’d like to see what statistics are being relied on for decision making purposes. I’d also like to know — is a decision to use dog searches something that’s strictly at the discretion of the principle? How does that come about?

  12. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 1:39 pm

    Karen, take a look at the Pride Survey of 12/09 – Lower than the national average, but too high for our little school system. This is the most recent survey, — they do a survey every 2-3 years. If you get a chance, talk to a few GMHS parents — or GMHS students — offline. The stories are plentiful, including those of a handful of kids bringing it to school.

  13. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on June 6th, 2011 3:09 pm

    I know there’s a philosophical debate related to this issue but if you put that aside for a second (I know… dangerous!) is the actual act of having dogs sniff backpacks a big deal? It seems minimally invasive (leave your backpack in the hall for one period, nobody opens it or even touches it unless the dog flags it), quick, and treats everyone the same.

    I suppose if it’s expensive then we should consider that issue – but if it’s cheap it seems like a good idea even if we don’t have much of a drug problem in school.

    If there are many false positives then I can see where it can get tricky – being incorrectly accused of something by a dog can hurt – but I haven’t read anything that suggests there were many false positives.

    Stan, thanks for providing information about the situation.

  14. Ray Arnaudo, Falls Church on June 6th, 2011 4:08 pm

    Could we get a few facts in this debate: 1) how many incidences of drugs of any sort have been reported in the school over the past few years, 2) do we know if the trend up or down, and 3) did the doggie patrol find anything? My kids graduated from the FC system a few years ago, and I don’t recall it being a big problem. Ray Arnaudo

  15. Bob on June 6th, 2011 4:39 pm

    My only issue is this, unless all backpacks are on video in the hallway, how do we know the drugs aren’t being planted once left outside the owner’s custody? Heck even the airport doesn’t trust unattended bags.

  16. Bob on June 6th, 2011 4:53 pm

    Ray, I bet you are a lucky parent of a kid who didn’t care if the dogs came or not, because he/she was clean. Just ask the police if Mason students have a drug problem… Avoid asking the parents, some will steer you in the wrong direction.

  17. Mason Student on June 6th, 2011 5:08 pm

    Stan, you mentioned the PRIDE survey as justification for needing this kind of drug enforcement at school. I’ll go ahead and quote the last paragraph for everyone reading:

    “The survey indicated that middle and high school students are least likely to use substances at school, where zero-tolerance expectations and consequences are made very clear, and the rules are strictly enforced. According to the survey, the places students are most likely to use are at a friend’s house, followed by home, “other,” or in a car.”

    Do some students use drugs (mostly marijuana) at school or bring drugs to school? Yes. A small number do. But isn’t George Mason’s supposed drug problem something that goes way farther than the school itself? Bringing dogs to school won’t do anything except encourage kids to do drugs somewhere else in Falls Church. It’s treating a symptom of the “problem” rather than a cause.

    The school administration constantly justifies the use of these drug dogs by saying they’re trying to keep students safe. I don’t do drugs, but I can say with complete honesty that I’ve never felt unsafe at Mason for any reason, particularly not because of someone else’s drug use. You’d have to search really hard to find someone who would tell you otherwise. And if it’s the safety of the people doing drugs (primarily outside of school) that we’re trying to protect, what sense does that make? The school can’t protect its students from their own decisions. That’s responsibility falls on their parents and the community at large.

  18. Ted White, Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 5:29 pm

    “Mason Student” has written the most adult and sensible response to this subject. I think that says a lot.

  19. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on June 6th, 2011 5:39 pm

    I agree with Ted – good comment by “Mason Student” – but assuming the dog search isn’t expensive it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

  20. Lou Mauro on June 6th, 2011 5:55 pm

    Good job, Stan. Welcome back. I hope this means we will hear from you on a regular basis.

    As for the merits of the issue, I don’t think it’s such a big deal. The high school administrators, after providing due notice, conducted a search for contraband and acted legally and reasonably in doing so.

    I am more concerned about the visibility you provide for Michael Gardner’s column. Like the News-Press, it is given to hate-filled, bigoted, mean-spirited lies and smears. Unlike the News-Press, however, there is little if anything else of redeeming value. Reading such polluted junk is toxic—- bad for your health. It should just be ignored.

  21. George Bromley on June 6th, 2011 6:32 pm

    This is not about “safety” in the usual sense of that term, it’s about stopping sale and distribution, two words people seem reluctant to use here. We do not want current users enticing more users. That is a most serious problem, one which the authorities are trying to stop as best they can.

    The school is far and away the most likely place where students are going to sell or otherwise distribute drugs, simply because that’s where they will find the highest number of potential customers, day after day. Therefore it is the best possible place to conduct a sweep in the least invasive manner. This is a much more efficient approach than direct surveillance or use of informants and a first step in keeping the problem from spreading.

    Pray what happened in Centreville never happens here:

  22. Steven Valley on June 6th, 2011 7:05 pm

    You know what’s interesting?

    just about everyones responses here are well reasoned, thoughtful, and in support of Principle Byrd (who BTW I applaud for doing this). I think as a community we all want the sales of drugs to stop and we want it to be done in a way that is decisive and clear to anyone thinking about selling drugs here… that being, we will not tolerate this activity. That’s what I am getting when I read these responses.

    Yet we have the News Press clearly stirring things up and being misleading.

    Is the NP really that out of touch with us as a community? and if the majority of the comments here are any indication of the way Falls Church citizens really feel about the subject, why do we support a newspaper so clearly not interested in supporting the community they’re located in?

    Why do we tolerate this from them?

  23. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 7:23 pm

    @Mason Student,

    Hi! Thank you for writing, and for being a serious student who stays away from drugs. It is great that Mason is a safe place for you, and that is the way we want it to remain. I think the school administration is right, however — safety is one of the key reasons for drug prevention efforts. The other key reason, in my mind, is to maintain a good educational environment.

    Your question, however, seems to be whether drug prevention efforts make sense at all. By drug prevention, I mean methods which keep the drugs out in the first place rather than those that deal with their presence. And it’s a valid question: Should we be trying to keep the stuff out, or are we just doing whack-a-mole? So what would happen if there were no prevention efforts at all? I think that at best, the presence of drugs would become a distraction for serious students. Pot smoke in the bathroom, kids getting high during lunch break and interrupting class, etc. At worst, the drugs would become a safety issue – disputes over sale transactions, for example.

    Does the use of drug dogs mean the drugs will only go somewhere else? I don’t think that’s necessarily so, but maybe. But even if that’s the case, I think the dogs are justified. At least the drugs will be removed from the school place, thereby avoiding the scenarios describe above. Don’t get me wrong – I care about students whether they’re in school or out, but if we keep the drugs out of the school, then at least those who are using them don’t affect those who aren’t.

    Therefore, as long as there is a prevention method that does not endanger you or violate your civil rights, I believe it should be considered. That’s why the use of drug dogs appears reasonable to me. As long as the dogs stay separate from the students, I don’t perceive that they endanger anyone or violate anyone’s civil rights. Similarly, when I go through the airport metal detector, it’s annoying, but minimally invasive and aimed at keeping somebody else from hurting me, so it seems reasonable. Again, if there is a better way to do drug prevention, great, but the method the school administration has chosen doesn’t seem offensive to me.

    Basically I feel that no one has a right to bring drugs to our schools – or alcohol or tobacco for that matter. It’s not fair to students who are trying to focus on education, and it’s not fair to parents who are paying the bills. I hope the kids who are using drugs will think twice and give them up, but if not, I certainly want them to keep the drugs out of the schools.

    Thanks again for weighing in. We are proud of the good students like you, and your input is valuable.

    Stan Fendley

  24. Gavin R. Putland (Melbourne, Australia) on June 6th, 2011 7:42 pm

    The reversal of the onus of proof in drug-possession cases is incompatible with the rule of law and is therefore unconstitutional in all jurisdictions.

    More: .

  25. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 7:58 pm

    Sorry, Australia. That’s not the law in the United States.

    Read U.S. v Place,


    (b) The investigative procedure of subjecting luggage to a “sniff test” by a well-trained narcotics detection dog does not constitute a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 706-707.

  26. FCC Resident on June 6th, 2011 9:17 pm

    Stan- That same case says that “When an officer’s observations lead him reasonably to believe that a traveler is carrying luggage that contains narcotics, the principles of Terry and its progeny permit the officer to detain the luggage temporarily to investigate the circumstances that aroused the officer’s suspicion, [462 U.S. 696, 697] provided that the investigative detention is properly limited in scope. Pp. 700-706.”
    So are we saying that the officers suspected every kid in the school? and that therefore, the search was reasonable. I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to know the intricacies of the law, but I find this kind of search chilling.

  27. S. F. Hill (Falls Church) on June 6th, 2011 9:27 pm

    One thing that we can agree on is that the schools should scrupulously follow the school board’s policies in conducting these searches. From what I have heard, this appears not to have been the case with recent search at GMHS, which was a suspicionless search not authorized under current policy. School Board Policy 9.57 (see specifically provides that the schools may search students and their property in only two instances: (1) where there is a reasonable suspicion that an individual student “has violated or is violating the law or a school rule and that the search has at least a moderate chance of yielding evidence of the violation,” or (2) where the student has given valid consent to the search. A search of every students’ belongings does not meet prong (1) of the policy as the suspicion has to be directed toward an individual, not at the student body generally. Prong (2) also was not met, as no valid consents from individual students were obtained, from what I understand. The two Supreme Court opinions listed as guidance in the school board’s policy, moreover, do not endorse the constitutionality of suspicionless searches. The first opinion, New Jersey v. TLO, found that schools may search an individual student based on reasonable suspicion, and the second opinion, Safford Unified School District v. Redding, found that the reasonable suspicion standard in TLO was not met when a school strip-searched a student. While suspicionless searches have been held constitutional in at least one federal circuit (the Seventh Circuit), they have been found unconstitutional in two others (the Fifth and Ninth Circuits) (this law review article has some useful information: I do not believe the Fourth Circuit, which includes Virginia, has had occasion to opine on the question, but someone please correct me if I am wrong.

  28. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on June 6th, 2011 9:38 pm

    FCC Resident,

    No, of course not. US v. Place is relevant b/c of its holding on sniff tests. Officer observations were not at issue.

  29. charlie anderson on June 6th, 2011 10:42 pm

    I think we can all agree that there should be no drugs in school under any circumstance. How to prevent it is what is at issue. SFHill cites the board policy. The schools should follow board policy.

    To Mason Student – I am glad you feel safe at GMHS. The administration is trying to keep it that way. As a partial owner of this building, I expect the school board and school administration to keep all of our schools free of drugs. The best way to do that is to have students that think of bringing drugs to school thinking twice. Without the threat of random searches, how else can this be done? Many of your classmates say they know who the few kids that bring drugs to school are, but for obvious peer pressure reasons, you don’t say who they are. So again, how do we keep the schools safe?

  30. Lou Mauro on June 6th, 2011 10:52 pm

    FCC resident,

    Your reading ability is as absent as your name. While you may find “this kind of search chilling,” that is totally irrelevant. Read Stan’s post again: the court said use of dogs IS NOT A SEARCH within the meaning of the 4th Amendment.

  31. Barry Buschow on June 6th, 2011 10:54 pm

    This dialogue is no longer about keeping drugs out of our schools in a very safe and effective way…It seems to be about all the lawyers in the city and forgetting about the reason the dogs are used…..Keeping drugs (even if it is just one student) out of our schools!!! Who knows, it could be your child that that one child affects….communicating and setting bounds is part of parenting but does’nt always get done at home…..

  32. Mike Smith, Falls Church on June 7th, 2011 1:17 pm

    We can argue the fourth amendment until the cows come home. What I worry about is the lesson the kids take away from this type of action. They learn that those in power can do whatever they want, they learn that collective guilt is OK as long as you can rationalize it, they learn that actions do not have to bear any proportionality to the problem at hand. All useful leasons if we want to either crush their spirits or create an environment of resentment and suspicion.

    Teachable moment, indeed.

  33. Outdoorenthusiast on June 7th, 2011 3:51 pm

    Mr Smith,

    You dont give GMSH students (Like my daughter) enough credit. She knew exactly what was going on and understood the reasoning, the method and the raionale behind it.

    Everything done was well within reason according to her, and completely minimally invasive. They enjoyed the respit from the day as they waited 20 mintues for it to conclude, then it was back to the normal day. Quit being so melodramatic.

  34. Lou Mauro on June 7th, 2011 5:26 pm

    Well said, outdoorenthusiast.

    What is it with these Michaels (e.g., Gardner, Baker, Smith)? I would say they’re still experiencing their 1960’s draft-card burning fantasies and neuroses, but none of them seems old enough to have been a member of the SDS or Weather Underground!

  35. S. F. Hill (Falls Church) on June 7th, 2011 6:57 pm

    I’ll walk back my above comment to a degree. If the dog sniff of the backpack is not a search for 4th Amendment purposes (see the U.S. v. Place opinion provided in the comment, above, and also see the more recent Supreme Court opinion of Illinois v. Caballes at, then the School Board Policy is not invoked by the sniff alone. The dog alerting to the backpack would then provide reasonable suspicion for an individualized search under the first prong of the Policy. It should be noted that the dogs did not come into contact with the students, which would raise 4th Amendment search issues. The VA DOE has an extensive and comprehensive guide on conducting school searches, found at (see the discussion starting around page 90). It appears that the schools made a good effort to comply with the standards set forth in this guide.

    The one potentially problematic issue is whether ordering the kids to leave backpacks behind in the hallways to be subject to the dog sniff constituted a constitutionally impermissible seizure of the backpack. This permissibility of this practice is discussed, but left unresolved, in the VA DOE guide. This might be an area of eventual challenge.

    Long story short, we can and should have a philosophical debate on the merits of these searches, but looking at the facts anew it appears the schools made a good effort in adhering to the current legal requirements.

  36. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on June 7th, 2011 9:27 pm

    I hope we can keep this civil.

  37. Lou Mauro on June 8th, 2011 12:09 am

    Go back and read what they said. Civility is in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, a sharp response to those who accuse the high school administrators of police-state behavior that crushes the spirits of students is not uncivil. The Michaels are big boys, Stan. Your sanctimony is misplaced this time.

  38. CR Sanders on June 8th, 2011 7:59 am

    It would be great to know how many of those on this string actually have a child who attends GM.
    For those who object to the search, are your objections academic or grounded in the reality of the situation that exists — that illegal drugs (use and posession) occur at GM?
    This whole matter and dialogue is a teachable moment. Let all parents talk with their kids about drug use, use and posession of drugs on school property and the school’s response to it. And let’s not just talk once, let’s keep the dialogue going.
    The key here is balancing all the rights on all sides of the issue. I think the schools did just that.

  39. FCC Residents on June 8th, 2011 9:08 am

    Not only do we talk to our children “about drugs,” but also that they are never, never, never ever to talk to police or school administrators without one of their parents being there should they feel themselves in a difficult situation. They are not adults. Moreover, I was very proud of my child coming home that day, deciding to read through all the school rules and regulations, and asking my opinion on why what happened didn’t violate the 4th amendment. Good research, and a very teachable moment.

  40. Cathy Quinn Falls Church City on June 8th, 2011 9:51 am

    The comments from concerned parents and public, both positive and negative
    suggest that this community cares – which we have known for the 34 years we have lived here. Drug, and lets not forget alcohol, has existed the entire time. It has never been ignored. However, Mr. Byrd has taken the approach that is appropriate for today and what is available to us.

    I am the NP who may or may not be in touch with the situation. I encourage you to think of the children if you are opposed to the dogs. After 40 years of Pediatric practice in the DC area – 25 of them in this City, I can assure you that there has always been a problem – albeit a smaller one than most areas – and it needs to be addressed. I saw students in this city who used drugs as early as 4th grade. Who knows when they started alcohol? At one point I had seen enough that I made a responsible staff person aware. These kids were not “bad” kids. They were curious kids who got caught in a sticky web – then their choices became bad. These children were most often brought in by parents who loved their children. An educated guess, as I recall the experience, (which hasn’t been too long ago) is that about 25% came in because parents were worried. The other approx. 75% came in because the teacher, principal or guidance counselor had called the parent and said “we’re worried about your child – please consider a check up with your pediatrician.” Then the parents natural worry instinct became active and they came. They were not “bad parents”,

    As was mentioned by many – this was not an invasive procedure, as best I can tell. (but then – I might not be in touch and I just got the letter saying I am eligible for Social Security.) This procedure, without warning – except to the parents that day, may be responsible for preventing kids who were “thinking about it”, from taking the step. It should protect all the kids who have never used, and hopefully will help the children – and they are children – who are using, and keep them from falling into the abyss that is chronic drug abuse.

    Don’t forget about beer, wine and hard liquor. The school cannot track that down. That is the responsibility of the parents, those in the community and the police. I told my own and many of my patients – the issue is not that they are not trusted – the issue is that they are normal teenagers and normal teenagers have been known to do anything with which they can get away.

    I recommend support of Mr. Byrd’s program, and by that, our children.

  41. TFC on June 8th, 2011 5:43 pm

    Well done Ms. Quinn. I agree

  42. Peter Van Buren on June 9th, 2011 5:00 pm

    I live in FC and have kids in the schools. I am opposed to drugs, care about our kids but at the same time care about respecting our rights and teaching our children what those rights mean.

    I believe the dog search violated the Fourth Amendment. I have spoken to a lawyer who may be willing to address the case pro bono, for free. If you would like to learn more and speak with the lawyer yourself, please email me. [email protected].

    FYI, Mr. Byrd told me in an email that no/no drugs were found in the search. I was told by another unconfirmed source that one can of beer (?) was seized from a student.

  43. Peter Van Buren on June 9th, 2011 9:19 pm

    Ambulance chaser

    “Pro-bono….unless there is a ‘settlement’….then…one third!”

    Everyone works to capitalize on something!

  44. Stan Fendley, Falls Church City on June 9th, 2011 10:34 pm


    You’re suggesting that people sue the Falls Church City Schools and seek monetary damages?

    Stan Fendley

  45. tj on June 14th, 2011 7:32 am

    Nothing wrong w/school doing random checks. FCC students are not exempt from use of drugs, alcohol, smoking. Sue the FCCS on this? Really.

  46. Barry Buschow on June 14th, 2011 2:27 pm

    Here are ten ways to drug-proof your child:

    1. Set a family standard on drug and alcohol use: Tell your children the rules early in grade school and repeat them often. Live by them yourself.

    2. Let kids know there are consequences and punishments for violating all family rules. Make them clear and fair and enforce them.

    3. Set aside time every day to talk with your kids about their lives, how they feel, what they think. Listen and care.

    4. Help your children establish realistic personal goals in academics, athletics and social life. Then encourage and help them to achieve their goals.

    5. Know your children’s friends and spend time with them.

    6. Get excited about the things your kids care about. Do fun things as a family.

    7. Be aware. Find out the warning signs of drug abuse, from physical changes to hostility to loss of interest in school or hobbies, and watch for them.

    8. Talk with your children about the future. Discuss responsibilities – yours and theirs.

    9. Enjoy your kids. Make your home a happy, positive place.

    10. Be a nosy parent. Ask your children questions, know where they are and who they are with. Let your children know you are asking because you love them.

  47. John on June 16th, 2011 3:11 pm

    Interesting opinion issued today by US Supreme Court on police and school official questioning a 13 year old at school before giving Miranda warning

  48. Cathy Quinn Falls Church City on June 17th, 2011 1:32 am

    Good Job Barry.

    In addition to knowing your children’s friends, may I add knowing the parents of your kids friends.

  49. Ray Arnaudo on June 18th, 2011 11:54 am

    For those still interested in this topic, this week’s News Press has a letter from a GMHS junior, giving a student’s thoughtful perspective to the random drug search last month…if nothing else, it shows GM is still teaching their wards how to write well!

  50. Patrick Riccards: The Trouble with Puppies on June 20th, 2011 7:16 pm

    […] were chastised for teaching students about abuses of power and how power corrupts. The debate then continued with a defense of the drug dog, followed by an article on the online debate […]

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