The frequency of locker searches at LHS by specially trained canines is up, but school officials say they aren't finding much in the way of illegal drugs.
Lawrence High School officials have arranged more frequent visits by drug-sniffing dogs while simultaneously reducing the cost of such searches.
In January, the school began monthly car and locker searches using three dogs from Springfield, Mo., and a fourth dog from the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.
Now smaller searches are performed nearly once a week with only the Douglas County sheriff's dog. Such searches cost the school nothing.
The dogs from Springfield have been brought to LHS only once this school year at a cost of $400.
"We were using them once a month, but we're able to use the single dog more often and still get everything covered," LHS Principal Brad Tate said.
Tate said the school still plans to bring a whole team of dogs to the school on occasion.
Mike Browning, dean of the senior class at LHS, said the searches haven't turned up much in the way of drugs.
However, he said, the searches have turned up drug paraphernalia and drug residue. He said the dog occasionally detects marijuana residue on jackets or other items in students' lockers.
In those cases, the student is called to the locker and asked to explain to two Douglas County sheriff's officers why the dog has detected something. Browning said it's not uncommon for students to admit their involvement with drugs.
"We hook them up with a counselor, mostly to give them some information and a different perspective," Browning said. "I really believe the students know we care about them as people. We're just not happy with some of their activities."
Students offered mixed reviews about the use of the drug dogs and their effectiveness in keeping drugs out of LHS.
LHS sophomore Ty Revenew at least is convinced that the dogs' noses work.
"I've seen one person get busted right next to my third-hour class," Revenew said. "The dog smelled marijuana on his jacket."
LHS sophomore Jennifer Conradi said she doesn't have any problem with the visits.
On the other hand, as a member of the LHS Marching Lions, Conradi said she's just not used to the idea of the dogs checking band members' luggage before they head for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
LHS junior Heather O'Neill said she questions the effectiveness of the drug dogs. She said its common knowledge that "you can still buy drugs" at the school.
One staff member who wished not to be identified said some teachers suspect that students might just carry the drugs on their person instead of leaving the drugs in their locker.