By Claire Walla
Last Thursday around 8:45 a.m., Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols got on the intercom and told students to remain in their classrooms. Suffolk County Police were on the premises, he explained — drug-sniffing dogs in tow.
Two dogs from the county’s K-9 unit performed a quick sweep of middle and high school lockers on June 7 with negative results. Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto said no illegal substances or related contraband were found.
According to Sag Harbor Village Police, which sent patrol units to the school to supervise the search, the entire operation took 14 minutes.
In an interview this week, Dr. Gratto confirmed the county’s K-9 unit was not brought to the school as the result of a specific incident.
“We wanted to get [the drug-sniffing dogs] in before the end of the school year,” he said.
Dr. Gratto added that the district had arranged for the dogs to come in on two other occasions, but the date kept getting pushed back due to school conflicts, one of which was state testing.
“It went quite smoothly,” Dr. Gratto continued, adding that he has not received any complaints from parents.
The decision to bring drug-sniffing dogs to the campus was preceded in February with the adoption of a policy on the “Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs.” The policy details the process of bringing drug-sniffing dogs onto the Pierson campus, which allows the administration to bring the dogs in unannounced.
As for whether or not those in the district can expect to see similar instances in the future, Dr. Gratto could not say for sure.
“It’s a tool,” he began, “along with other preventative measures, that can be used occasionally to let kids know they can’t bring drugs to school.”