HUNTINGTON BEACH — Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to use police dogs to sniff student lockers and cars for drugs in the seven campuses of the Huntington Beach Union High School District.
Officials said they plan to launch the searches in about two weeks in all the district high schools in Huntington Beach, Westminster and Fountain Valley.
The police departments of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Westminster and the Orange County Probation Department will participate.
The program is believed to be the first of its kind in Orange County.
School officials said they will insist that the four drug-sniffing dogs in the program not come in contact with students. Lockers and cars parked on school grounds are to be randomly searched while students are in class.
Ron Shenkman, a former school board president and mayor, urged trustees to vote against the proposal.
"I urge you to take careful consideration on the impact this program would have on the psyches of students coming to school in a police state," he said.
However, Ellin Chariton, mother of a freshman student at Huntington Beach High School, said the proposal should be passed. She said that students need protection and that her daughter's personal rights were being violated by anyone using drugs.
Trustee Bonnie Castrey said the drug-sniffing proposal should be used as a tool because "we are deteriorating as a nation. But we need to be careful on how we use that tool."
Police said they will prosecute offenders.
The program is not being launched because of any recent incidents, board President Jerry Sullivan said, but results of undercover operations at some schools in recent years indicate that there is a drug problem "under the surface."