Thursday, November 02, 2000

Schools to use dogs in searches

Mt. Healthy to hold showing tonight

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Mount Healthy City School District has contracted with a company to use dogs in random and unannounced searches at the high school and two middle schools this year.

        “The district wants to send a clear message that it has adopted a proactive approach to eliminate dangerous items from its schools,” said Judy Ashton, communications coordinator for Mount Healthy City Schools. ""The goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for all, leaving parents comfortable with their child's safety.”

        Mount Healthy school parents are invited to see the Interquest Canine Detection Team demonstrate the use of their dogs in searching for drugs, alcohol and weapons. The parent assembly begins at 7 p.m. today in the Mount Healthy High School gymnasium.

        The district signed a contract with Interquest Detection Canines of Cincinnati before the school year started. It's considered a preventive measure and is not a direct response to the Sept. 18 incident at Mount Healthy's North Middle School, said Viki McCorkel, the district's safe and drug-free school coordinator. A 14-year-old pulled out a handgun and fired a shot into the ceiling of his eighth-grade classroom.

        He pointed a gun at a teacher and ordered 15 other students in the class out of the room. He then asked to speak to a police officer who works part time at the school.

        Ms. McCorkel expects the searches, along with educational resources provided by Interquest, will help put students at ease in all three buildings.

        “I think, in the back of their minds, there's uneasiness if a peer is selling drugs,” she said. “This contract really provides some comfort that that's not going to happen in our buildings.”

        Interquest provides trained detection canines to schools, industries and governmental agencies. Nationwide, it serves more than 6,000 campuses.


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