HCPSS MPIA Request #2020-231

Requested Information
Regarding Policy 9260 and the canine search MOU referenced in section XIII of the policy:

1) The MOU governing canine searches was effective in November 2009 and has not been updated in the ten years since while it annually auto-renews for the past ten years. As the document refers to annual automatic renewal unless terminated by either party, please provide dates, copies of the agenda on which an annual review was performed as well as copies of minutes or other documents showing the discussion and diligence which (should have) taken place annually before the BOE or another central office party just allowed this to automatically renew.
2) Regarding Policy 9260, this was last reviewed and revised in June 2014. Please provide the schedule showing when this will be reviewed in coming months before this lapses by June 2020 under the six year review cycle as mandated by Policy 2020. In lieu of any review and update before June 2020, please provide information as to what will take its place when the current review period runs out and expires at the six year mark in June 2020.
3) Please provide a copy of the governing policy which states that documents incorporated by reference (as in the case of the canine search MOU referenced at Policy 9260) are NOT required to be concurrently reviewed and amended along with the Policy itself no less frequently than every six years. Otherwise, does the implied required annual review before allowing auto renewal (see item 1 above) cover this, assuming such annual review happened? In general, what is the policy on referenced documents as to the timing of review along with the master policy in which it is incorporated?
4) For each year since the canine search MOU was effective in 2009, please provide dates in which training to school administration was performed (annually?) and agenda of the training which would ensure that the MOU is implemented consistently and accurately at each and every school.
5) Please provide a copy of all data tracked and perhaps used in reviewing the effectiveness and safety of the canine search MOU, including but not limited to the following. None of this is personally identifiable to any student as it is simply numbers and schools; if you prefer to provide as "school A, school B, etc" please do so since the numbers and school years/dates are what is most important.
• For each school year dating back to 2009 when the canine search MOU was signed, how many canine searches were performed throughout HCPSS?
• For each canine search since 2009, identify if this was within the building or on the school parking lot.
• For each canine search since 2009, identify if a full scan of the premises was conducted (as the MOU allows a scan meaning full premises) or if random students or vehicles were selected when there was no reasonable suspicion to select these students or vehicles, or if in fact a reasonable suspicion was first established before directing the canine to a specific student or vehicle.
• For each canine search in a high school parking lot (identified by school year and name of school or " school A", "school B", etc), identify the total number of vehicles to which the canine was directed to sniff (full parking lot or a random few), how many of these yielded an alleged "alert" by the canine to warrant further physical search, and how many then were found to be false positive alerts by the canine in that nothing was found when a vehicle was physically searched.
• For each of the false positives counted above, identify how many were the result of initially randomly selecting vehicles or how many were the result of choosing vehicles where there was a reasonable suspicion to do so in the first place (policy 9260).
• In general when deciding whether or not to allow this MOU to annually renew, identify the data considered by HCPSS leadership as to the known error rate of the canines in frequency of "false positives".

Date Received
Response Notes

Responsive to your request for various data regarding canine searches performed over the past ten years, which are conducted under the auspices of the Howard County Police Department, no record of comprehensive data is maintained by the school system. Further review would be needed of individual files to compile existing records containing outcomes, which are often kept related to potential student discipline and thus would likely be heavily redacted as confidential student records or where details of such searches have the potential to reveal student information. We would direct you to the Howard County Police Department for official data on searches performed. Furthermore, no individual record identifies data on trainings for school administration over the course of the past ten years, therefore additional review would be needed to locate existing records that identify dates of such trainings.

Additionally, no existing records show a requirement for or dates of annual reviews of the canine MOU, identify data used by leadership in review of known error rates of canines, nor does any HCPSS policy cover a requirement for review of referenced documents/materials. For reference, we have included with this response newly implemented administrative procedures related to system-wide MOU tracking. Under the MPIA process, and as advised in the Fourteenth Edition of the Maryland Public Information Act Manual created by Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General, an agency is only obligated to produce existing records and is not required to answer questions that would create records to satisfy a PIA request. Nor is an agency “required to commit itself to provide records that have not yet been created.”

Responsive Documents
This record shows those policies, including 9260, which are currently up for review by the Superintendent’s Standing Policy Committee (see role of this Committee in Policy 2020 Implementation Procedures at I(C). The results of work by this Committee will follow the process in Policy 2020 V(A)).
Prior training materials used with school administration specific to search and seizure procedures. Please note, none of these are currently in use by the HCPSS Security staff. These are in addition to HCPSS Policy 9260: https://www.hcpss.org/policies/9000/9260-student-search-seizure/ which outlines school system/employee responsibilities related to search and seizures.

*Some request language is summarized to include the requester's specific document requests and legally protected information (such as personally identifiable information of a student) or personal, defamatory and malicious content removed at the discretion of the school system.

**Responses containing legally protected information available only to the person of interest are omitted from the above report.

***Howard County Public Schools reserves the right to remove erroneous or outdated documents from this site.