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Selected Editorials from the Editor

Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

Selected editorials from Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.


The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


FFMHS Found to be “Drug Free”


A surprise canine drug search found no drugs


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, January 27, 2015


   A surprise drug search was held at Fort Fairfield Middle/High School on Monday, January 12 at 1:30 p.m.

   Three dogs participated from the Maine State Police, each dog specializing in a different class of drugs.  The search, which had been in the planning stages since at least before Harvest break, was done in half an hour and no drugs of any kind were found.  Earlier that day, the same dog team inspected Mars Hill High School.

   The police were invited by the school administration to search the building per the MSAD #20 school board's approval, but the date, which was hard to secure, was kept quiet.  “No one was tipped off, anybody for any reason,” said MSAD #20 Superintendent, Marc Gendron.  “The school board was aware of our plan for a search, but the High School administration team  and I were the ones who thought it was important for us to do this.”

   The board is currently discussing the idea of conducting another surprise search in the Spring and expanding it to the parking lot.

   Some concerned parents and students have cited the possible illegality of the search due to it being a potential violation of the 4th amendment's protection against searches that are done without a search warrant. 

However, the 4th amendment only requires a warrant for a search, in most cases, when the police themselves initiate a search against an unwilling or unwitting party

  The necessity for obtaining a warrant can be bypassed if willful consent is given for the search.  In this case, that consent was granted by the school board and school administration—the people who are in charge of the building and responsible for enforcing a no illegal drugs policy.

   According to Constitutional Law, 8th ed. (©1999 Anderson Publishing Co)., “As with other constitutional rights, the right to privacy may be waived.  Citizens may consent to a search of their persons, effects, vehicles, and homes.  Consent alone provides a sufficient justification for a search, eliminating the need for a probable cause warrant.  The scope of the search is limited to the places for which police have been given consent to enter and the intensity is limited to searching for items for which consent has been granted... Anyone who reasonably appears to be in a position of authority over the property to be searched may give a valid consent.” (op cit., p. 184)

   Since the MSAD #20 school board inarguably has authority over the buildings that comprise the Fort Fairfield Middle High School, they, through their administration, exercised that authority to invite the police in to search for drugs.  In this respect, the constitutional requirement for a warrant does not apply. The U.S. Supreme court has ruled, “A search conducted pursuant to a valid consent is an exception to the warrant requirement.” - see Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218; see also State v. Smith, 72 Wash.2d 479.  The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled “One who possesses common authority over premises has a sufficient interest in his own right to permit its inspection...Consent to authorize a warrantless search may be given by a third party who possessed common authority over or other sufficient relationship to the premises or effects sought to be inspected.” - see United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164.

      FFMHS students had to surrender their personal belongings to the canine search team.  “Teachers had students placed their belongings near the door, Tim Watt and I opened classroom doors and took the students' belongings into the halls and lined them up with spacing so the dogs could smell them individually,” said John Kaleta, FFMHS principal.  “At the end of the search students were released from the classrooms and asked to gather their belongings from the hall. Nothing was missing and no drugs were found.”

   According to the Constitutional Law book previously cited, the 4th amendment does not apply for canine searches.  “When police can gain access to a container without seizing it, and can determine its contents without invading it, neither probable cause nor a warrant is required...Because the canine narcotics detection examination does not intrude upon the privacy of legitimate matters, it is not considered a search.” (op cit. p. 209)  In other words, a warrant is not needed for a canine search when searching/sniffing containers or packages, it is only required when the police want to actually seize and open a specific container or piece of personal property.  The U.S. Supreme Court has established this maxim in its ruling on canine drug searches in United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 702.

   The 4th amendment only protects people from the police arbitrarily initiating a search without a warrant.  It does not protect them from their spouse, roommate, a boss, a school board, or any other person not related specifically to the Executive branch of government.  For example, an employer can require random urine tests to check for drug use amongst its employees without the need for a court-issued search warrant.

   While it has been argued that schools are funded by taxpayers and thus should preserve the Constitutional rights to privacy, taxpayers themselves are not the governing authority of the schools.  In the case of Fort Fairfield, taxpayers get the opportunity on a regular basis to elect representatives to the school board to act as the governing authority of those school buildings on their behalf.  “A broad discretion is vested in local school boards with respect to the management of school affairs.” (see David O. Solmitz, et al. v. Maine School Administrative District No. 59 et al., 495 A2d 812)

   Parents and students who are alarmed at this level of intrusion into their privacy need not look at the police, rather the onus is on the MSAD #20 school board as the entity that should be fielding their complaints. 

   Those who are concerned about the invasion of privacy with these types of drug searches are encouraged to either withdraw their children from public school and home school them, or to address their concerns to the MSAD #20 school board members via phone, mail, e-mail or during a public comment period of a regularly scheduled school board meeting.  Contact information can be obtained by phoning the superintendent's office at 473-4455 or online at


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