Marines to conduct surprise inspections at two Camp Foster schools
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marine Corps will administer unannounced inspections periodically at two Camp Foster schools, where they will look through wall lockers, backpacks and vehicles for drugs, weapons and other forbidden items, base officials said Monday.
A base order signed last week set up how the inspections will be conducted at Kubasaki High and Lester Middle schools. A similar program is already being conducted by the Air Force at Kadena Air Base.
Capt. Josh Watson, inspections and investigating officer for the Marine Corps Base Command Inspector General’s Office, said the inspections are about student and faculty safety.
“It’s not in response to any particular event or anything that happened, it’s basically just a proactive measure to ensure that the schools remain safe and that students don’t do anything they shouldn’t be doing,” he said.
Sgt. Maj. William Fitzgerald of Headquarters and Service Battalion, Camp Foster, said that a team of roughly 60 Marines E-7 and above will receive special training from the Provost Marshal Office on how to conduct inspections, including classes on what type of items to look for and how to deal with teens and preteens in a sensitive and courteous manner.
On the day of an inspection, the 60-man team will show up at a school and, after a brief announcement, will begin the inspection.
According to a Marine press release, “Searches will include student’s lockers, book-bags and personally-owned vehicles. At no times will the students themselves be inspected, nor will they be required to empty their pockets.”
Students will be able to request an inspector of the same gender when their belongings are checked, according to the release.
School faculty members are exempt from the inspections, Fitzgerald said.
Contraband items will be turned over to the school or to the Provost Marshal Office, and any disciplinary action will be taken by the school in consultation with the child’s parents, according to base officials.
The inspection process should last less than two hours initially, and will lessen as the inspectors become more familiar with the inspections, officials said.
Stars and Stripes was not allowed to speak to any Kubasaki High School student. Steven Sanchez, principal of Kubasaki High School, declined to comment about the inspections. Al Grade, the principal of Lester Middle School, could not be reached for comment.
Laura Stoller, communication officer for Department of Defense Dependents Schools, said the school district welcomes the inspections.
“We fully support their efforts to ensure the safety of all of our students,” she said.