Manteca Unified campuses aren’t infested with drugs if the district is compared to other school systems of similar size or even some nearby districts.
But that isn’t enough for the Manteca Unified board. They want to turn up the pressure to make campuses as safe as possible.
The board Tuesday voted to expand a contract with Canine Detection Services by $12,000. Instead of primarily using the dogs to sniff out drugs when students are suspected of having them, the district will deploy the highly trained dogs and their handlers for random campus visits.
“Hopefully, students knowing that we are doing random sweeps will serve as a big deterrent,” said District Superintendent Jason Messer.
Messer has pointed out possession and use of drugs and alcohol in many cases under the law now have a more severe consequences for a young person when it occurs on a school campus than it does in the general public. He added that the Canine Detection Services dogs have been used occasionally for random sweeps. The additional funding will significantly expand that effort.
Board member Stephen Schluer, a detective with the Manteca Police Department and former school resource officer, championed stepping up the use of the drug sniffing dogs.
District leaders have never denied drugs are a problem as the schools do what is needed to deal with them. That said the numbers of suspensions and expulsions for drug, alcohol and tobacco related offenses are on the low side compared to many nearby districts as well as districts of comparable size.
During the first four months of the current school year there were 107 suspensions and 5 expulsions among the district’s 23,500 students for drug and alcohol offenses. All but 19 were at the high school level. There have been 86 suspensions for possession or use of drugs, 12 for possession or use of alcohol, four suspensions for possession or use of tobacco, three possessions for the sale of drugs, and two suspensions for possession or use of imitation drugs. Three of the expulsions were for the sale of drugs and two were for use or possession of drugs.
Due to the extensive policies and procedures in place to deal with drug-related issued rarely do suspensions and expulsions reach the hearing level as they do in a number of districts as issues and consequences are extensively vetted with parents and guardians.