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Leashing in school safety

District plans to bring in K9 for locker searches; prior school shooting almost attempted

Guilderland School Central District is looking to introduce K9 search dog “Rocky” into school buildings to perform random drug and weapon sweeps periodically.

Guilderland School Central District is looking to introduce K9 search dog “Rocky” into school buildings to perform random drug and weapon sweeps periodically. Photo by John Purcell.

— Guilderland school officials are implementing several measures to address safety issues, but the one attracting the most attention involves man’s best friend.

The Guilderland Board of Education met with the town’s police department in September to explore the possibility of introducing K9 search dog “Rocky” into its school buildings for potential drug and weapon sweeps, said district Superintendent Marie Wiles.

“In the context of that conversation, we realized our school district — in concert with the Guilderland Police Department — does a tremendous amount of work together on the topic of school safety,” Wiles said.

The Board of Education heard a program report on school safety from high school Assistant Principal Lisa Patierne and district Resource Officer Nick Ingle on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

The presentation focused on the district’s partnership with the police department, why the district needs to be more sensitive towards safety issues and the strategies implemented, along with what safety initiatives are being planned.

Wiles said the issue of school safety is “at the center” of the district’s goals, with it appearing in the first sentence of the district’s vision statement.

“It is so important to put this in the context of all the work that we do in our school district and this might be a night where we talk about school safety, but it is in the context of our overall mission,” Wiles said. “We can’t inspire, we can’t cover the common core, we can’t do all those things we need to do as a school if first we don’t keep our students, our staff and our faculty safe and secure.”

Part of the district’s approach to increasing the police presence in the schools involves bringing in “Rocky” to search for drugs and weapons.

Patierne said when a dog search is undertaken, all students and staff would be locked down in classrooms, and only a designated area of the building would be searched. Lockers would not be opened unless “Rocky” detects something and district administrators choose to open that locker.

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