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Random Drug Testing May End at Hillsborough High

Committee recommends the district stop testing after program showed 'inconclusive reports.'

The Board of Education will vote later this month whether to stop the random drug testing program at .

The vote on the recommendation by the Education Committee is expected at the July 23 BOE meeting.

Thuy Anh Le, chairwoman of the committee, said at Monday’s school board meeting that 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.

“We can’t really explain what the data means,” she said.

Board President Thomas Kinst urged parents to attend the July 23 meeting to give input about the recommendation before the board vote.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Lisa Antunes, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, outlined the annual results of the random drug testing program, which had been funded by a grant until the 2011-12 school year.

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.

The target population of the tests were students in grades 9-12 who were involved in athletics, extracurricular and co-curricular activities and those who chose to participate in the program with parental consent. That totaled about 94 percent of the school’s enrollment.

A grant helped defray the costs of the random drug tests in the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, while the district paid the entire $2,675 cost of the program in the 2011-12 school year.

Board member Greg Gillette said he was “shocked and appalled” that only 50 students were tested in the 2011-12 school year, a quarter of the number tested in previous years. The enrollment of Hillsborough High School is 2,409.

Gillette said he had thought there had been money in the budget to perform the same number of drug tests as previous years. He said the board should have been notified when the decision was made to test only 50 students.

High school principal Karen Bingert said the drug tests may have been seen as a deterrent to drug use because it gave students “a reason to say ‘no.’” But she also said the small number of students who were tested, less than 10 percent of the enrollment, made “the odds in favor” of the student who was using drugs.

"It’s a roll of the dice,” she said.

The annual American Drug and Alcohol Survey of Hillsborough High School students showed that in the 2011-12 school year, 54 percent of the students used alcohol in the past year while 17 percent admitted they had used marijuana in the past year, Antunes said.

The voluntary survey, given with parental consent, is anonymous and contributes to a national database, Antunes said. About 57 percent of Hillsborough High students participated in the survey.

The survey also showed 8 percent of the students had used marijuana in the month previous to completing survey and 17 percent within in the year.

“We clearly have a problem,” said board member Christopher Pulsifer, but added there was “no control” in the data required for a better analysis.

Antunes encouraged more parents to come to the schools and participate in anti-drug programs.

“We need to get the message to parents that the students are getting in the classroom,” board member Judith Haas said.

David Hasselhoff July 11, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Sounds like you just spent pointless money to figure out kids will use drugs. I love how when the data doesn't make sense; it's not your fault for not understanding, there must something wrong with the data. I would have thought that an educational institution would be more focused on education than parenting but that’s just me. You define what is wrong with America. HHS Alumni
Nancy Edwards July 11, 2012 at 02:53 PM
As a licensed addictions professional, I applaud Hillsborough for implementing drug testing in our schools. It is an effective way to deter drug usage, while helping to identify students who are using substances and provide them with the information they need to stop Continued drug use does impact their ability to learn, lives and future! If funding is the issue, then why not look for funding or donors to continue to support this worthwhile intervention.
Nancy Edwards July 11, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Please read more: www.preventionnotpunishment.org/ Prevention Not Punishment: Random Student Drug Testing Also note: Hunterdon Central HS in Flemington, our neighbors, did a lot of work in this area.
mikeh July 12, 2012 at 06:37 PM
leave the parenting to the parents!!! you are there to educate our kids, not be the drug police.
dubious July 12, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Maybe if some parents did a better job of parenting, the schools wouldn't have to do their job for them. What would you have the schools do? Ignore the problem? Should the schools take no action and put the vast majority of non-drug abuser kids in jeopardy? Shall we allow drug and alcohol abuse to exist in the schools simply with the lame excuse, "that's not our job?" Random Drug Testing may or may not be the answer, but the schools have an absolute responsibility for the safety of all children in their charge, good parenting or not. Oh, and try educating a group of kids with a bunch of pot heads in the room. The rights of dumb kids to abuse drugs if they want, and the rights of even dumber parents to allow it, does not negate the responsibility of the schools to deal with the problem to provide a safe learning environment for all.
Curt Carnes July 12, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Read the Constitution Pay particular attention to the 4th amendment, found in the Bill of Rights By the laws on which this contry was established The 4th amendment -- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Now tell me how a teacher in the high school can reasonably teach the 4th amendment to a student who without warrant, with no probable cause, and totally unsupported by Oath or affirmation is FOURCED by the government to pee in a cup, so the government can analyze their urine, and then pronounce them good or bad citizens!!!!!! Now to be clear, I think we need to do everything that can be done to control the drug problems everyone says exist in our schools (except real data is now actually saying else wise) BUT teaching our children it is okay to violate the constitution or for that matter the law, for a “just” reason is just WRONG! Drugs are a problem, but teaching our children it is more than okay to break the law will create a problem that will make even the worst drugs, look pale in comparison.
Curt Carnes July 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Here is my solution I would hope any parent who thought their child might have a drug problem would deal with it. But I’d bet you my bottom dollar the very same parent who says we have such a large drug problem, will be the very first to say – Oh but not my child. In fact if we assembled all the parents in the high school parking lot one evening and said – Okay, anyone here who thinks their child has a drug problem raise your hand. Not one hand would go up! Then ask has any parent here walked into their child’s bedroom and said, come with me now, we are going to the doctor to have you checked for drugs. If anyone raises their hand, pin a pin on them that says “Parent of the Decade,” and hirer them to teach parenting 101! Okay that can't happen, but consider this. Randomly send parents a letter, telling them they must take their child to a doctor of their choice, and have him or her tested for drugs and alcohol. Tell the parents the school will cover the cost of the test, and the parents are only responsible to prove to the school the test were administered. Results stay private, with-in the family and doctor, so the family can deal with them as they see fit! Don't like that? Change the 4th amendment! Don't want to do that? Be a Parent, not a friend or sometime buddy to your child! No body said parenting is easy!
Curt Carnes July 13, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Dubious I’m not busing on you, but you come off just a bit righteous. Like you saying –“Maybe if some parents did a better job of parenting.” Just what do you mean by that? You did, and they didn’t? So again, I’m not busting on you, but please tell us, ahhhh how did you say? – “Even dumber parents,” to raise our kids as smart as you did? What was your magic to keep your kids on the straight and narrow, and tell me too! How did you know what they were doing when they were out of your sight?
Patti Buckle July 13, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I saw this as another pointless way to spend money in the township. The DARE program has the kids gung ho against drinking and drugs while they are still young. As soon as they got into highschool, all the things the DARE program taught was pushed aside or even forgotten as the kids were thrown into the age of temptation. The random drug testing program could only randomly test the kids who turned in a permission slip signed by them and their parents agreeing to be tested. The kids that were doing drugs never brought home the permission slips to be signed so duh......who got randomly tested????? The kids who were NOT doing drugs. Waste of time and money.

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