The following letter was e-mailed to Liberty Middle and High School parents and guardians on Tuesday, Feb. 26:
The district is working in partnership with the Village of Liberty Police Department and the New York State Police to conduct regular walk-throughs in order to ensure that our schools maintain a safe learning environment. Police canine units are brought to Liberty schools by state police as a proactive measure, not in response to any perceived increase in disruptive or dangerous behavior.
The district has conducted canine walk-throughs in the past. The most recent walk-through took place Tuesday, February 26, when the administrative staff of the Liberty High School and Liberty Middle School called a hold in place for students and staff while canines and their State Police handlers conducted a free air search of all lockers in the high school and middle school.
The dogs are specifically trained to alert during a free air search on the scent of illegal drugs or explosives. To that end, it’s important to note that this was an “open air sniff,” meaning that the canine would alert an officer to the possible presence of drugs or explosives.
The canine teams do not search students during the walk-through. During the search which lasted less than thirty minutes, students remained in their classes completing instructional coursework. Any searches based on reasonable suspicion were performed by building administrators in a private area. There were no substances found during the search today.
Schools must strike a balance between a students’ right to privacy and the need to maintain school safety. Under school board policy 5300.60, the Liberty Board of Education authorizes district officials such as a superintendent, principal, school resource officer or nurse to search a student and his/her belongings if there is a reasonable suspicion that the student violated the law or the district code of conduct. Parents are always contacted once a search has occurred regardless of whether the suspicion was substantiated.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
All the Best,
High School Principal
Middle School Principal