Venice High School could soon be the site of a sadly necessary pilot program designed to reduce the presence of illegal drugs and weapons on campus. At its next meeting, the Board of Education should approve a proposal to periodically take drug-sniffing dogs onto campus over a one-year period.
Sniffer dogs already are a fact of life in a number of Los Angeles-area public and private schools, but Venice High would be the first campus of the L.A. Unified School District to have such a program. The school plans to contract with a private company that takes amiable Labradors and golden retrievers, rather than intimidating German shepherds, to campuses for unannounced sniff-searches of classrooms, student lockers and possibly cars in the school's parking lot.
Students themselves would not be searched by the dogs, which are trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, alcohol, a few medications and gunpowder. If a dog signaled the presence of one of these substances in a locker or backpack or desk, the student would be questioned by school officials rather than police.
It is a hard reality that, as Venice principal Bud Jacobs notes, guns and other weapons are found at the school three or four times a year. Keeping them away could save a student's life. This year's gun violence on America's school grounds is evidence of the need.