To Debate Drug-Sniffing Dogs in School

Parent warns of cocaine sales at high school
T.E. McMorrow

    During Tuesday night’s East Hampton School Board meeting, members heard a plea from a parent to do something about drugs offered for sale at East Hampton High School and weighed whether to deploy drug-sniffing dogs through the school’s halls.

    A Latino parent addressed the board at the end of the evening, during the second opportunity for public comment. She said a student at the high school had recently offered her child cocaine. Five other Latino parents sat nearby, later echoing much the same.

     “The kids were offered drugs at lunchtime, and another kid saw it in the bathrooms,” she said. “I worry for my son.”

    On Wednesday morning, Patricia Hope, the board president, said the issue had been debated previously, but that vocal opposition from one or two parents had tabled the idea. She explained that if drug-sniffing dogs were ultimately approved, students would remain in their classrooms while the dogs and their handlers walked up and down the halls passing student lockers, accompanied by Adam Fine, the principal. “It would provide one layer of deterrence,” Ms. Hope, said, stressing that “no kid is going to be sniffed.”

    The board had mentioned the possibility at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, and the issue will be brought up for debate at the next meeting, on Nov. 5. Ms. Hope urged parents to attend, so that “everyone has an opportunity to speak up.” In the intervening three weeks, she urged parents to make their opinions known: “If you have something to say send an e-mail, make a phone call, send a letter.”

    Tuesday’s meeting began with a brief humorous skit by four members of the high school’s drama club, in honor of School Board Recognition Week. A reception followed the conclusion of the two-hour meeting.

    Robert Tymann, the assistant district superintendent, spoke about recent state test scores at East Hampton Middle School. Though scores for students at the middle school fell, in some grades quite considerably, they corresponded to averages across the state, he said. When compared to Springs, Montauk, Southampton, Hampton Bays, and Riverhead, he said the middle school was “headed in the right direction,” and had the possibility of soon becoming a top-performing district.”

    Last year’s sixth-grade English language arts results fell from 62 to 44. Sixth-grade math scores were 7 points above the state average, while seventh-grade E.L.A. scores were 20 points above the state average. Among eighth graders, the scores were 15 points above the state average on the E.L.A, exam, and 25 points above the state average in math.

    Later in the meeting, Jeff Thompson and Amy Falkenhan, John M. Marshall Elementary School teachers, gave a presentation on experimental technology, called ActiVote, being used in fourth and fifth grades for guidance and remediation. Teachers present a series of questions on a projector, and using a handheld device each student provides an individual response, with answers appearing anonymously for all to see. They explained that teachers receive immediate feedback, tied to each student, and are able to differentiate instruction and review material where confusion proves widespread.

    In other news, the board continued to weigh the use of the district’s facilities, particularly its policy of renting fields to for-profit organizations. A copy of the most current draft of a new policy was not made available, though board members debated its content. Jackie Lowey, a board member, also urged the district to revamp its Web site, saying it has consistently proven difficult and cumbersome to navigate.

    In addition, the board voted to approve a student jazz band trip to the Disney’s Jazz It Up Workshop in Orlando, Fla., next April. Students will raise funds to cover the $1,000 cost for each, with the district footing the $500 transportation bill. Physics students will participate in Six Flags Great Adventure Physics Day on April 25 at a cost of $30 per student, and the district will cover transportation there in the amount of $2,800. The boys and girls cross-country teams will attend an invitational at Brown University in Rhode Island, with the district to cover $1,550 for transportation.

    In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Joyce Daniels, a clerk typist, effective Oct. 18. She was later appointed a part-time bus driver for a probationary period of 26 weeks, with an annual salary of $18,325, effective Oct. 21.


One or two parents voiced their opposition and the idea of keeping our kids in a drug free zone was tabled? Yes, god forbid we keep our children safe. How does the majority get out played by the few? Who cares about their opposition, please explain to me how children younger than 18 have any expectation of privacy in a government funded institution? My kids don't have an expectation of privacy in my house.