Drug suspensions have more than doubled in recent years at Petaluma’s largest school district, the result of more students bringing marijuana onto campus. Now Petaluma City Schools wants to try a new approach: bringing drug-sniffing dogs to all of its high schools as a way of sending a strong message that drugs have no place at school.
The specially-trained dogs would be stationed in the parking lot or hallways and would only come to each campus once or twice per semester, according to Dave Rose, director of student services for PCS.
“We want the students to know what the dogs’ capabilities are and if it helps deter even one student from bringing drugs on campus, that’s the preventive measure we’re looking at,” Rose said.
Last school year, 127 students were suspended for having or using drugs while at school, compared to 54 the previous year.
Rose blames the increase on the loss of school resource officers.
"Having a uniformed officer and a police car on school grounds was a major deterrent and we've lost that," Rose said.
Previously, , and had one resource officer each and they also helped cover a middle school. But the positions were eliminated beginning in 2009 due to budget cuts at the Petaluma Police Department.
Compounding the problem is that high-grade marijuana is easily accessible to students, whether on the street or through local medical marijuana dispensaries.
"It doesn't take much for an 18-year-old student to get a card and buy some at a local pot club and then turn around and sell it to his friends," Rose said.
The school board is set to vote on the decision on Tuesday, March 13.
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