Drug dog for high school

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A drug-sniffing dog’s about to go through Wakatipu High after several students were recently suspended for smoking cannabis.

Principal Steve Hall announced the move in the school’s newsletter last Friday, saying it’s a first for Wakatipu High, though not uncommon in other schools.

Hall’s message was accompanied by a strongly-worded letter to parents and students by board of trustees (BOT) chairman Charlie Phillips, on behalf of the board.

Phillips makes it clear that Wakatipu High’s got zero tolerance for students possessing, using or supplying illegal drugs, either at the school or when representing the school, even while allowing that drugs are a reality in the Queenstown community.

“If students make bad personal choices, they will face consequences that will jeopardise their future at [Wakatipu High].

“This is underpinned by the fundamental right for students and teachers to feel safe at school.”

Hall says he doesn’t want to elaborate on the incident that triggered both Phillips’ letter and the pending visit by a drug-detection dog.

won’t say how many – were suspended for using cannabis on a school trip, after involvement by the BOT’s disciplinary committee.

“They are now back at school and there are ongoing conditions [on them].”

Hall says he definitely doesn’t believe the school has a drug problem, but firmly supports the board’s stance and the involvement of a drug-sniffing dog as “some pretty positive steps”.

“Certainly, feedback from parents is positive – people are happy about the board’s position and they’re happy that we’re doing things.”

Hall says the school’s done a lot of research to ensure the use of a drug-detection dog complies with regulations and legislation.

“Just because it was new and different, I decided we would let everyone know that this was happening.”

This isn’t the first time the school’s been in the spotlight this year for disciplinary problems.

Back in February, 20 students were stood down after drinking before and during the school’s annual participation day.