Drug Testing: We Want More Input, Board of Ed Says
Only one person speaks on controversial policy, the fate of which may be decided in October.
Only one person–former school board vice president Marc Rosenberg–came to Monday’s board meeting to speak on the policy. The school board, which has tentatively scheduled a vote on the policy’s future in October, has allotted time on their meeting agendas specifically for public input on the issue.
Rosenberg, at Monday's school board meeting, reiterated the points he made on the policy earlier this month in a letter to Patch.
Rosenberg emphasized that the most important issue facing the school board is what strategy to fight drug use will be utilized if the board decides to stop the drug testing.
“The bottom line is what you replace it with,” he said.
Rosenberg said that the board must be convinced “that it has done everything possible” in case a student becomes a victim of drug abuse. He also said that the board has a legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe environment for students.
Rosenberg, in his tenure on the board, voted to implement the policy.
In July, the board’s Education Committee voted to recommend to the whole board to abolish the policy.
At the July 9 board meeting, Thuy Anh Le, chairwoman of the committee, said the recommendation was made after reviewing the program’s results since it was implemented in the 2008-09 school year.
Le said the program showed “inconclusive reports” and the goal of an annual 5 percent reduction in drug use was not met.
But the board tabled a vote on ending the policy after members failed to reach a consensus and decided more input from parents was needed.
Board member Christopher Pulsifer said on Monday evening that the question is “a very sensitive subject.”
“I like to get public input,” he said. “ I really hope the public will express its opinion and say what they think is important.”
“It would be a shame if we don’t get any input,” Pulsifer added.
Board member Greg Gillette repeated his opposition to the program which he said was on “the razor’s edge of constitutionality.”
“We tried it,” he said. “It didn’t work.”
“This is not a tool or weapon in the war on drugs,” Gillette said. “This is the A-bomb.”
The target population of the tests were students in grades 9-12 who were involved in athletics, extracurricular and co-curricular activities, had parking permits and those who chose to participate in the program with parental consent. That totaled about 94 percent of the school’s enrollment.
In the 2011-12 school year, 50 students were tested and six positive test results were found. The tests revealed marijuana use.
In the 2010-11 school year, 199 students were tested and eight positive results for marijuana were recorded.
In the 2009-10 school year, 189 students were tested and seven positive results for marijuana were recorded.
In the 2008-09 school year, 200 students were tested and five positive results for marijuana and opiates were recorded.