School Drug Testing's Fate Coming in 2 Weeks
With hundreds of online survey responses turned in, BOE can vote to abolish, keep, or amend controversial policy.
The Hillsborough Board of Education will vote in two weeks on the future of the school district's random drug testing policy.
Board President Thomas Kinst said at Monday’s meeting that the board’s Education Committee will meet later this week to discuss the issue and make a recommendation to the board, which will then vote on Oct. 22.
Part of the Education Committee’s review will be a consideration of the online survey on the issue that had been posted on the district’s website. The survey results will also be given to all board members.
While the survey has garnered hundreds of responses, there has been rare comment on the issue at board meetings, though the board has set aside a portion of each agenda for public input.
On Monday night Lisa Gulla, a member of the Hillsborough-Millstone Municipal Alliance, told the board that she was in favor of retaining the random drug testing policy.
Gulla said the testing was “a tool, but not a cure.” She added it was a “very effective” tool that “absolutely” helps parents.
“It’s one more layer,” she said, adding that the testing is “a small piece of the puzzle.”
At the July 9 school board meeting, Thuy Anh Le, chairwoman of the Education Committee, said the committee's initial recommendation to eliminate the program 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 in July on ending the policy after members failed to reach a consensus and decided more input from parents was needed.
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.