It may be a new school year but Simsbury school officials are not letting up on tough policies implemented last year to curb student drug use.
In a letter to parents of high school students, Principal Neil Sullivan reported that as a result of a community-wide response to the issue of drug abuse, incidents of student drug abuse and possession have decreased.
Last February, eight police canines were brought to Simsbury High School to search for illegal drugs in the school. No drugs were found during the search.
School officials say they are pleased with the decrease in drug use but they don't plan on letting their guard down.
"At the same time, we still have significant concerns about teens and their potential exposure to marijuana and more serious drugs, and we certainly know that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to make our school community as safe as possible," Sullivan said in the letter.
Sullivan said the school plans to continue working with the Simsbury Police Department to continue unannounced 'sweeps' of the school for marijuana and other drugs, according to the letter.
The sweeps are seen by school officials "as a strong deterrent" against students bringing drugs to school.
"We are grateful for the community’s support of the decision we made to take this step, which we recognize may seem drastic to some people," Sullivan said.
When a drug sweep is going to occur, Sullivan said he will make an announcement when police arrive on campus. The canines will then search hallways, bathrooms, common areas, lockers, locker rooms, and the parking lot. Students will remain in their classrooms during the search.
"If any illicit substance is discovered, the individual student will be brought to an administrative office and be subject to further questioning and search. For those who are discovered in possession of marijuana or other drugs, penalties will include suspension and the possibility of expulsion from school," Sullivan said.
Following a drug sweep at the school, Sullivan said he would communicate with parents through the school's ListServ system. Details will not be shared with the news media.
Sullivan said the school's goal is to make it clear that substance abuse is not tolerated rather than to "catch kids."