Dear Principal: A Letter from a Student Victim of Random K9 Searches

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Dear Principal,*


First off, I want to welcome you to our high school. Last year was your first year teaching at our school. When you first arrived you laid out the rules, such as the basics: dress-code, violence, and electronics policies. Your final policy change was drug dogs, and everyone automatically started booing and showing their dissatisfaction with your decision. I was one of those students. I felt as if your policy completely destroyed our rights as human beings.


I understand that the moment any student steps on campus, the school has a right to basically take away our rights, as we have heard in many of our history classes. If a teacher has reasonable suspicion, they can search your bag or call administration to do so, but the K9 unit is completely different. In my eyes, it makes me feel as if we are all criminals in your eyes. You say it’s “helping” the students and preventing drug use during class, but that is not at all how the majority of the student body feels.


As a student who was caught by your K9 unit, I feel the need to explain to you how much it actually helped me. Originally I was assigned a week’s suspension, which ended up being two weeks because I refused the substance abuse classes assigned to me for various reasons. When I explained to you the situation, you changed the suspension into a 10 day suspension (which is of course in the student handbook). Once I did find a class, my parents and I tried to get in touch with you multiple times so that I could return to school. You would not return any of our phone calls, leaving me clueless as to when I could go back.


Since I had signed up for a class, I was supposed to be able to return to school the following day . We turned in the paper work, but because you would not answer our phone call, I could not resume class. After two long weeks, I came back to school to find that my grades had dropped from A’s and B’s to D’s and F’s. This had so far been the year when I was finally understanding high school. Until my suspension, I had finally understood how to make the grades.

I am not blaming anyone but myself for what happened, but I just want you to understand how much you are really helping the students.

Transitioning back into school was horrifying. Rumors had started up about me being escorted off in handcuffs. I was embarrassed to go back into the class where I had been called out, because everyone knew something had happened with the dogs. I was terrified to have pestering people coming up to me and ask what had happened, some of them people I didn’t even know. As the days wore on, fewer people asked what had happened, but there were still those few. After that, it just became a normal thing, I began to focus mainly on my grades.


I was units behind. I tried as hard as I could until the very last day of school, but I pushed myself too far. During those times, I would have anxiety attacks, bouts of extreme anger and depression. I constantly wanted to go home and would make up excuses in my head just so I could go home early. Sometimes I would be sitting in class and just start crying. I couldn’t help it. I hated it at that high school.  Before this whole incident, I was a fairly happy girl. Every once in a while I’d get upset, but other than that I was what would be considered normal. I came to school every day and did my work.


For once, I had had a positive relationship with my teachers; this was my good year, until that suspension halfway through. And no matter how hard I worked to achieve the grades I wanted after that, I always came up too short. My grades stayed at D’s for most of the year, with me worrying I would be barely passing. Finally, toward the end of the semester, when I was exhausted and just done with the year, my grades moved up to C’s and B’s. It wasn’t perfect, but I worked hard for it. The positive part of that year was actually talking to my administrators and having a positive relationship with them as well.


I’m almost certain that this letter will not change your policy on the K9 unit, but that is not why I wrote it. I wrote it so you could actually see the effect it is having on students. It’s hard to see it from the other side, and I’m just trying to make you fully understand the situation you are putting us in as students. My situation may not be the same as others, but I felt the need to speak up.


Have a wonderful day,


Your student

*Ladybud and the author’s parent have removed any and all identifying language from this article to protect the minor student who wrote it. It is being published anonymously, but it is a true account, not a work of fiction.


Photo Credit: Peter Isotalo under public domain via Wikimedia Commons