Arkansas school using a drug dog to address substance abuse

    (Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette)

    Fouke Public School District recently introduced its new canine officer, named Major, at the school.

    Major is a narcotics detection canine.

    Major, a black German shepherd, will do a passive alert when he smells an illegal substance.

    Fouke School District spent $8,000 to buy Major. The price tag included a weeklong training session and handler certification for Jeremy McClure, Fouke resource officer and Major’s handler.

    School officials hope Major can have a positive effect on students at the school.

    “Students know he’ll be here every day,” Fouke School Superintendent Jim Buie said. “When we do find a student in possession of drugs that opens up a conversation with the student’s parents and the school that would have never happened. Right now those conversations aren’t happening.

    “I think it’s sometimes popular to say a school has a drug problem but the reality is we have kids with a drug problem who are at the school.”

    If drugs are found on a student, they will be suspended for 10 days, according to handbook policy, and referred to drug counseling available on campus.

    A new drug-testing policy will be in place for Fouke High School when the new school year starts. Mandatory testing will be required for all students in extracurricular activities and those who drive to school.

    “If you fail that drug test, it’s not punitive. They will have to sit out from activities and no driving for 30 days,” Buie said.

    Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett was at the event. Barrett is entering her second year in partnership with Fouke Public School District to implement school safety measures in south Miller County.

    According to a news release, the partnership between Barrett’s office and the school district came about as school administration sought to modify the traditional model of school security — which involved articulation agreements between the school and the Miller County Sheriff’s office — and move toward a model that gives the school district more autonomy to create a better school-safety structure.

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