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RUSD Enlists K9 For Campus Work

Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) has contracted with Interquest Detection Canines, Inc. to reduce students’ use of unlawful drugs, alcohol, and prohibited items on campus. With the increase of deaths among the youth nationwide that are drug related and a couple threats of violence that were reported this year at Riverbank High School (RHS), the district has taken action.

The RUSD Board approved the contract with Interquest at the Nov. 2 meeting and the contract will extend through May 2023. Each visit will be unannounced and is $250 per visit. They will visit all three sites – Riverbank High School, Riverbank Language Academy and Cardozo Middle School – each time.

RHS was locked down on April 1 for everyone’s safety which was not an April Fool’s Day joke and was not taken lightly when threats of violence were found written on a bathroom wall. There was another brief lockdown in September with another threat of violence written in a bathroom. In both incidents, law enforcement was contacted and a search was conducted with the threats determined to be unfounded.

Parents were issued a letter in early November regarding the new contract stating that due to the past two years the country has seen an increase in fentanyl deaths among young people as well as an increase of students under the influence of or in possession of marijuana at RHS.

The services provided by Interquest will include random, unannounced inspections of buildings, parking lots, and items at RHS, Cardozo Middle School, and grades six through eight at Riverbank Language Academy.

The non-aggressive canines are trained to detect the presence of illegal drugs, alcohol, gunpowder-based items, and medications and then to indicate the area where the scent is detected. They will be used to sniff items like backpacks, purses and cars but not people on campus. The canines are retrieving breeds like Golden and Labrador retrievers and there will be a different dog for each visit.

Each school site received a visit by Interquest for a brief assembly in mid-November to demonstrate what the dogs will do when they are on campus.

The letter sent to parents was issued by RUSD Director of Student Services Barbara Brown and noted that “if the canine detects one of these “scents” our site administration will follow up with an appropriate investigation.”