Howell Public Schools administration members discuss student concerns over “drug searches”

A photo taken by Nick Root during the latest event.
A photo taken by Nick Root during the latest event.

Howell superintendent, high school principal, and head of security explain drug searches; offer an additional course of action.

By Social Media Editor: Cassie Bondie

In what was, by far, the most popular story ever published on the Howell (Livingston) Teens blog, a very pressing issue was explored. Students who attend Howell High School (as well as alumni), offered concerns about recent “drug searches” that seemed to be disguised as “lockdown drills”. These outcries eventually flooded social media, as well as the local newspaper.

Read the original story here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/livingston-teens-its-our-time/howell-high-drug-raids-security-measures-both-wrong-and-ridiculous/1442129139339406

After many, many snow days and an extended winter break, Howell administration members were able to formally address the situation on January 30, in a private meeting. Some of the attendees included Howell High School principal Mr. Jason Schrock, Howell Public Schools superintendent Mr. Ron Wilson, and our new Safe Schools Coordinator Mr. Patrick Sidge.

Many allegations have led the public and student body to believe that the Howell Schools administration has disregarded student voices, and has refused to acknowledge arguments against their actions. Thankfully, through this meeting, several points of interest were discussed and a general consensus was reached.

 

Some very important facts of note include:

The school does have the right to legally conduct these searches.

The lock-down drill that takes place during the drug search is conducted to keep students in their classrooms while bags are being sniffed. The school district does not claim that the drug searches and lock-down drills are one and the same. Administration members were able to come to the agreement that the drug searches will be announced as what they really are from now on. This will help to eliminate any confusion. 

Another idea many students have entertained is that the school cannot force students to part with their bags or belongings. Contrary to that popular belief, they also have that right.

 

Drug searches are conducted in conjunction with the state police and follow a very specific protocol. Students are placed into a lock-down drill at this time because they are not allowed to come in contact with any K-9 units, according to law and board policy, without parental permission or reasonable suspicion that there is something illegal on their person.

That being said, if a student were to refuse to place their bag in the hallway, they may be subject to disciplinary measures for not following instructions. Furthermore, if a student refuses to remain within their classroom or interferes directly with official state-police business, they are likely to be arrested. Students, you don’t want to take that risk. I cannot stress this enough.

But, Howell administration is not interested in arguing the logistics of legality and policy, because their goals actually lie on the same side as students.

It was at this point that the meeting turned toward the idea of another course of action that may help limit these drug searches, or eliminate them altogether.

Many students feel that these drug searches are ineffective, and do little to solve the drug problem in our school. It is on this note that a pivotal point in our argument rests. Because most or all of Howell High School’s students are aware that the drug searches are taking place, illegal contraband very seldom makes it into the hallway. If we want drugs out of the building, we have to do more to eliminate the root of the problem.

The answer can be found in a student/administration team that works together to create an anti-drug program. Much like the flourishing Suicide Prevention program that was started at Howell High School this year, this team would be run by students and would work with school officials to help take a stand against drugs.

One of the most important points emphasized by Mr. Sidge was that drug searches conducted at Howell High School are made necessary by student tips and grievances that are brought to administration attention. If a student-run anti-drug program could help diminish drug use in the school, a situation that requires a random drug search of the entire student body may not present itself.

Does that mean we will never have a drug search again? That is entirely left up to the students and how much time and effort they are willing to put into this program. The ball has fallen in the court of Howell’s students, and they have the unique opportunity to take advantage of the situation and prove that we can be above needing regular drug searches.

Any students interested in becoming a part of the admin/student team, please email [email protected]