Scottsdale schools clam up on actions - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Scottsdale schools clam up on actions

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Posted: Friday, November 4, 2005 5:12 am | Updated: 8:37 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

For an outfit that claims to be focused on promoting learning, there’s plenty the Scottsdale Unified School District doesn’t want anyone to know. For instance:

• 1) What happened to the three Coronado High School band members who appealed their expulsions from the district?

• 2) How have the drug dog searches been going?

Students and parents have every right to know what’s going on at their schools. Yet, district administrators run the public school system like some sort of secret society.

Consider The Case of the Secret Expulsions . . .

Earlier this semester, the district expelled four Coronado students for hazing others during band camp.

The four duct-taped students’ wrists and ankles, yanked boxer shorts on their heads, stuffed an apple in one kid’s mouth and performed sexual dances in their faces.

In September, a hearing officer recommended all four be expelled. On Oct. 27, three of the juvenile delinquents appealed to the district governing board in a closed session.

At that point, district officials clammed up. Public information officer Keith Sterling refused to respond to a formal request made under the Arizona public records law concerning what action — if any — the board took.

"I can’t disclose it and there are several laws that we’re citing why," he said. The overriding concern is protecting the delinquents’ privacy, he said.

Keep in mind that no one has asked for their names; just what discipline they received.

It doesn’t matter, Sterling said. The district’s response to hazing is officially shrouded.

And consider The Case of the Secret Dogs in Schools Program. . .

On May 10, the district governing board voted to allow drug-sniffing dogs to slobber all over student lockers in the district’s five high schools.

The board’s intention was to appease Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had orchestrated a publicity stunt under the guise of a heroin ring bust.

The sheriff ’s operation identified exactly three "investigative leads," who were purported to be high school students who used heroin.

Based on that near complete lack of probable cause, the board invited Scottsdale police to search 8,300 students’ lockers.

Two searches were conducted in October and no drugs were found, Sterling said. However, he refused to respond to a formal records request concerning where and when the searches occurred.

"Obviously, we want to keep it random. We don’t want folks to know, for instance, which high schools we’ve been at, which ones we’re going to be going to," he said.

Keep in mind that if it’s truly random, previous results can’t influence future results.

That doesn’t matter either, Sterling said. School officials believe knowledge is dangerous.

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