By Ania Preuss (Federal Hocking High School senior)
November 13, 2000
Athens News: letter to the editor
In my nearly four years at Federal Hocking High School, I had never been so outraged by actions taken by the school administration, until Friday at 8:30 a.m. when the sheriff, police officers, and drug dogs arrived at the school. We were told to place all belongings in the halls. We were kept in our classes for nearly two hours while the search was being conducted.
Students and faculty knew very little about what was going on and why. Many felt that this action was wrong and that they did not have the right to do this. On the contrary I learned that according to the Fourth Amendment, the school could conduct this search with a probable cause.
[Editor’s note, 2/25/13 – Actually, one parent’s unsubstantiated claim that prescription drugs were being distributed in FHHS does not meet the legal standard of probable cause when it comes to searching each and every students’ personal belongings – particularly, given that police later admitted their drug sniffing dogs were not trained to sniff for prescription drugs. Unfortunately, school officials don’t need probable cause to conduct a search like this, only the far less stringent legal standard of “reasonable suspicion.” However, as I forced the attorney for the Athens School District to concede on a January 2001 episode of the WOUB television program “Intouch,” the FHHS search probably didn’t event meet the standard of “reasonable suspicion.” That said, we wouldn’t know about any of this, if not for your otherwise excellently argued, well-written letter – so rock on, Ania! You kick ass.]
In this case, the problem was with the alleged distribution of drugs and prescription medications. Other actions that could have been used to deal with this issue were ignored. At the very least, I feel that members of administration should have taken the time to tell us first of this alleged drug problem. Quite a few students had no idea that this was such a big issue at our school. I believe that we should have been forewarned of possible searches.
I do realize that the whole purpose of a search was to catch students off guard and to scare us, but warning us ahead of time would have scared those necessary into not bringing drugs to school in the first place.
Wasn’t that the desired affect?
All we wanted, teachers and students alike, was to know why the school felt that this action was necessary, and for someone to just explain what had happened at Federal
Could the principal have taken the time to speak with us as people and listen to OUR
feedback? Obviously not. I thought that the wonderful thing about our school was the Cooperative Education Plan, and that we had a voice and felt safe in our school. Perhaps I was wrong.