Shawnee Mission high schools have joined the list of area high schools, including Lawrence, that use dogs to check schools for illegal drugs.
Principals in the Shawnee Mission district said they doubt the new program, which begins this month, will eliminate drug use by students, but they hope to keep drugs out of schools.
Since January 1993, canine cops have patrolled hallways at Lawrence High School.
"I would assume that we would be doing that on at least a monthly basis, or even more often," said LHS Principal Brad Tate.
Normally, one to three dogs sniff out cars in the student and faculty parking lots, then they head inside and walk the hallways, checking out lockers.
Tate said the use of drug-sniffing dogs is one component of a schoolwide program that includes education in the classroom and a recovery group for students with problems.
If the dogs turn up drugs or drug paraphernalia, Tate said, the drugs, and the student, are turned over to police.
Using drug-sniffing dogs sends a message, he said.
"I think it lets them know that we're serious about it," Tate said. ``... I think kids need to know that we're going to do what we can to help work on that problem."
At Lawrence Alternative High School, drug-sniffing dogs have been used in the past, but not as often as they have at LHS, said Principal Judy Juneau.
"Kids decided on Wednesday of this week in an all-school meeting that there would be zero-tolerance for drugs and alcohol at our school, so kids are beginning to monitor that themselves," she said. "But that doesn't mean that we're not going to use those other methods of monitoring."