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Parents' Input Sought for School Drug Testing Policy

Board of Education delays vote on whether to continue program while gathering parent feedback.

The Board of Education board has postponed until the fall a vote on whether to abolish the school district’s random drug testing policy.

The board was scheduled for a vote on Monday night, but opted to table the measure in order to receive more input from the public.

The controversial issue again split the board, with some favoring the abolition of the policy and others saying it is another weapon in “the war against drug use.”

Thuy Anh Le, chairwoman of the board’s Education Committee, said at the that the recommendation to stop 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 results” and the goal of an annual 5 percent reduction in drug use had not been met.

A PowerPoint presentation on the program’s results had been presented.

At Monday’s meeting, Board President Thomas Kinst said he was in favor of abolishing the program because drug use not on school grounds “is not our jurisdiction.”

Kinst said it should be the responsibility of  parents to have their children tested for drug use.

Board member Greg Gillette reiterated his opposition to the program, agreeing with Kinst.

"It’s a family matter,” he said, adding that parents could take their children to a doctor’s office for a drug screening.

Gillette also was critical of court decisions that said only students participating in sports and other extracurricular activities could be tested for drugs.

Board member Chris Pulsifer said the school district does not have enough data to judge whether the program has been successful.

“It’s clear we have a problem,” he said. "We don’t have good statistics."

Pulsifer said the drug testing is “no panacea” but added that the school district should “take advantage of every weapon we have in the war against drugs.”

Board member Dana Boguszewski, a nurse, said she believes it is important to involve parents in the anti-drug effort, but noted that the district’s tests only screen for marijuana and alcohol.

“Synthetic stuff is not going to come up,” she said.

Boguszewski said she wanted more input from parents before voting on whether to abolish the policy and suggested delaying the vote until fall.

Board member Judith Haas said she wanted research done on more effective ways to reduce drug use. She also said a policy that only tested students participating in extracurricular activities was “questionable.”

Board member Jennifer Haley said she was “very disappointed” that the recommendation to stop the program was made after only 50 students were tested in the 2 2011-12 school year.

After “a lot of soul-searching” and discussions with her husband, a law enforcement officer, Haley said she was not in favor of stopping the program.

Haley said the school district “has to come up with a better approach.”

Board member Lorraine Soisson said the district “has to come to terms with the intent of the program” and design the program so it acts more as a deterrent.

Kinst urged community members to come to board members to voice their opinions about the program. He also said a survey will be posted on the school district’s website.

"I believe we will get more input,” Pulsifer said.

Adam July 25, 2012 at 09:38 PM
So you're telling me that kids in schools now have random drug tests? Are you kidding me? If I ever have kids, they are being home schooled. You people are out of your minds. Let parents be parents, and do your damn jobs. TEACH. EDUCATE.
dubious July 26, 2012 at 03:18 AM
And how to you propose the schools teach and educate if kids in the class are drunk or stoned? And what should the schools do if parents abdicate their responsibilities? If you think the educators in this town are out of their minds, by all means, keep your kids at home. Oh, and by the way, you have some catching up to do; random drug testing has been in the schools for four years.
Adam July 26, 2012 at 01:21 PM
It's the parents' job to talk to their kids, to ask them questions and get to know them as HUMAN BEINGS. It is not the schools' job to drug test the students. Parents are okay with this? Well that's because the parents are too stupid and lazy to care.
dubious July 26, 2012 at 05:05 PM
See if you feel the same way after you have kids.
Adam July 26, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Don't have kids if you're not willing to deal with their problems. You and everyone else is obviously willing to let the schools deal with YOUR kids. Absolutely pathetic.
Cat July 26, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I am about to embark on the most controversial and burnt out argument of all prison (ahem, school) rules: random drug testing and why it is particularly and utterly pointless. Actually, according to a Slate article on the subject, “in schools that randomly tested students, 12th graders were more likely to smoke marijuana.” Yep, you read that right. Another important point of the aforementioned Slate article: “Even if drug testing is done randomly and without suspicion, it’s not associated with a change in the numbers of students who use drugs in any category.” Testing misses the demographic it is so desperately searching out, since students can simply avoid extra curricular activities in order to save themselves from the testing pool. Despite the school’s “real motives”, in actuality random drug testing weeds out the troublemakers from the honorable students. So why use this system? True drug addicts are not the ones going to proms or school functions. They do not sign the sheet. Oh, and those drug and alcohol surveys that are distributed in homeroom annually? We usually like to make designs out of the bubbles. Some years, I just fill in “no” for everything and hand it in so I can get some sleep before first period. Maybe random drug testing would work if we actually needed it. In the meantime? Board member Greg Gillette is quoted saying, “That policy originated right here. We can stop that policy any time we like.” Do it.

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