Suspension or Expulsion Following High School Canine Drug Sweep

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 03, 2022 | 0 Comments

A recent press report describes a county sheriff's office practice of periodically sweeping a local high school using drug-sniffing dogs. The report quotes the sheriff as saying that the high school sweeps keep the dogs sharp for other drug-detecting work, even when the dogs discover no drugs in the school, which the dogs typically don't. According to the report, the random sweeps serve two purposes, both to catch students who violate high school drug policies and to keep the canine units, both handlers and dogs, in top shape. Drug use among the young and drugs in schools are significant public health concerns. Thus, school officials there and in many other high schools around the country welcome canine drug sweeps while also conducting locker searches and watching for signs of drug possession, distribution, and use. What's to hurt? Read on, and you'll see the risks.

The Ups and Downs of High School Drug Sweeps

Surely, high schools should be maintaining and enforcing policies against student drug possession and use. No parent wants their student to encounter drug dealers and drug abuse in the student's high school. Canine drug sweeps may seem a little over the top, especially when the searches seldom or never turn up any drugs, as in the above reported case. But although the Supreme Court has not ruled directly on high school canine drug-sniff sweeps, federal appellate cases like Horton v. Goose Creek Independent School District have long held the practice permissible under Supreme Court guidance in this area. High school drug sweeps are generally legal, even if they are not always necessary or even wise. Schools are academic environments, not penal institutions. Do you really want a heavy police presence in your student's school, guiding frightening-looking animals up and down the halls, distracting and unnerving students when they seldom, if ever, find any drugs? And high school drug sweeps, when they do discover drugs in a locker, can expose innocent students to significant risks.

The Risks High School Students Face

When police or school officials find drugs in a locker, any number of students, or even persons who are not students, may be responsible for those drugs. With shared and open lockers, and shared and open backpacks, purses, and bags, mistaken charges are a significant risk. Yet the real risks high school students face with drug sweeps aren't so much criminal prosecution but rather school discipline. Criminal prosecution for drugs discovered in a student's locker isn't all that likely. Prosecutors face a very high beyond-a-reasonable-doubt proof burden and other legal and evidentiary challenges to meet in proving a drug-possession case. They also have broad discretion to decide whom to charge. Other than for crimes involving serious violence and injury, prosecutors tend to leave school matters to school discipline. But students face consequences just as serious or even more serious than criminal charges from school discipline. Your student could suffer an unfair and unjust suspension or expulsion simply because of false or mistaken allegations. And school disciplinary proceedings require only a preponderance-of-the-evidence proof burden while offering few or none of the procedural or evidentiary protections for a criminal charge.

If your high school student faces misconduct charges involving drugs, alcohol, or any other behavioral issue, retain national academic administrative defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for aggressive and effective defense nationwide. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!


If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.