Random school searching continues

K-9 units search for drugs and weapons in middle and high schools

Forest High School is shown on Southeast Maricamp Road in Ocala, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

Home » Education
Posted April 1, 2024 | By Caroline Brauchler

Forest High School underwent a surprise search Monday morning by a Marion County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit as part of the administrative search policy instituted over a year ago.

The search was routine and scheduled but occurred at random as part of the surprise searches conducted by the sheriff’s office in coordination with Safe Schools to keep weapons and illegal drugs out of Marion County middle and high schools.

Administrative “surprise” searches of schools occur weekly, according to MCSO spokesperson Zachary Moore.

“Safe Schools uses a computer program to randomly select a school and classroom in the county for our (School Resource Officer) K-9 units to search for guns,” Moore said.

Marion County Public Schools spokesperson Kevin Christian said the school district could not divulge the randomization method used to select schools for searching.

“Principals receive notification minutes before a search takes place,” Christian said.

During these searches, students and school faculty are asked to exit the classroom and leave all of their personal belongings inside, which are searched by a K-9 unit to sniff for weapons and drugs. Students are searched with a metal detecting wand outside of the classroom to locate any items that might be on their person.

Before the administrative search policy was introduced in February of 2023, probable cause or suspicion was needed for a search to be conducted in schools.

For related coverage, read “MCSO to conduct random K-9 drug, firearm classroom searches.”

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