Imbusch Institutes Drug Search on Prom Day


Andrea Traietti

Graphic/ Angela Pyne

  Police officers entered Walpole High school with canine units and conducted a drug sweep on May 20, the day of prom. Since then, Walpole High students and Walpole community members have discussed the implications of the sweep and many have struggled to understand what actually happened during the search.

  “The intended goal [of the search] was twofold,” said Principal Stephen Imbusch. “One was to send a message that we can’t have drugs and alcohol at school, and the other goal was to try and get drugs and alcohol out of the hands of kids on prom day.”

In the morning, Imbusch came over the school intercom and announced that students and faculty were to go into a “lock and hold” procedure, meaning that doors to classrooms should remain locked and students should not be permitted to leave their rooms. During this time, police officers from Walpole and other towns used canine units to search within the school and around the school parking lot for drugs and alcohol.

  “Students were taken out of the class, sent down the hall, and then the dog went in and just sniffed bags,” said Imbusch. According to Imbusch, no individuals were searched during the sweep, only “inanimate objects.”

Imbusch noted that the search was not conducted throughout the entire school, and that rooms that were picked to be searched were chosen randomly.

  “[The idea for a drug sweep] started with a conversation I had with the police when drugs and alcohol just seemed to be consistently found either in school or at school-sponsored events,” said Imbusch. “I have an obligation to keep drugs and alcohol outside this school.”

During the drug sweep, alcohol was found in cars in the parking lot, but nothing was found within the school building.

In terms of the community’s response to the search, Imbusch said that he has received mixed reviews.

  “I understand the negative piece, and I understand the positive piece,” said Imbusch. “I do understand the thought that perhaps this was an infringement on people’s rights; I understand that [students] don’t leave [their] constitutional rights at the door of the school house.”

Imbusch clarified that the WHS handbook specifically states that cars can be searched if deemed necessary.

  “[The police] don’t need a search warrant here as long as I’ve invited them in, which I did,” he added.

Imbusch confirmed that as of right now, he is not sure about what is to come in the future in terms of drug sweeps. “At this point I have no plan for another drug sweep,” said Imbush, “If the next school year starts and everything’s clean, we find nothing and no one is drinking and no one is doing drugs, we don’t need to do a drug sweep.” Imbusch plans to explore the community’s reaction to this drug sweep and discuss the search with the school superintendent and school committee before making any decisions concerning the future of drug and alcohol safety at Walpole High.