Folsom v. Nine Miles Falls School District

This court case is completed

ACLU-WA succeeded in stopping a school district from implementing a policy that would have grossly infringed on students’ Fourth Amendment rights. Around January 2004, the Nine Miles Falls School District, which comprises parts of both Spokane and Stevens County, contracted with a company called Interquest Canine Services, which provides drug-sniffing dogs that sniff through belongings to find contraband. The school district intended to use these dogs to find out if students were in possession of illegal drugs and alcohol. They demonstrated the dogs’ abilities at an assembly. In addition to the dogs, the school district also enacted a new “level one lockdown,” where students would be escorted out of their classrooms and required to leave their belongings behind. Dogs would then sniff through all students’ belongings without their presence, nor their consent. Students’ cars would also be sniffed and searched during the lockdown mode. The first level one lockdown occurred in April 2004. Students were not told in advance of when a lockdown would happen. One female student had to hand over a bottle of over-the-counter-pills that she used for menstrual cramps, and then subsequently forced to publicly empty the contents of her bag, which contained feminine hygiene products. The new drug dog search policies alarmed many parents, and several came forward to ACLU-WA seeking to stop the program. After two year of negotiations, ACLU-WA was successful in persuading the school district to suspend their dog search policy, and the district agreed to only utilize it in cases of reasonable suspicion. The settlement was reached in March 2006. ACLU-WA staff attorney Aaron Caplan worked on the case with Breanne Briggs and John Sklut of the Center for Justice in Spokane.