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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.

The is asking for more public input on the future of the school district’s controversial random drug testing policy.

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, on their meeting agendas specifically for public input on the issue.

Rosenberg, at Monday's school board meeting, 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 .

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.

Joanna August 29, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Drug testing is very necessary and should not be omitted!
d August 29, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I think drug testing is very important and should continue in the high school. If 94% is the number of "targeted population" then why isn't 94% being tested? It doesn't matter how small the numbers are that are coming back positive for drugs - the important thing here is that students are testing positive and that alone is a reason to continue testing!
Laurie August 29, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I thought the Board of Ed conducted a survey on this issue after the July meeting. What were the results of that survey? I am not a fan of random drug testing. It intrudes on individual freedom and is an unnecessary expense. Without a random drug test policy, teachers and administrators have the right (and obligation) to involve parents and counselors when a student is exhibiting behavior suggesting alcohol or drug use. Acting on existing signs would be a lot more effective than randomly testing 50 students each year. In addition, if students are subject to random drug testing, then teachers, building staff, and administrators should be as well.
Joanna August 30, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Laurie I definitely agree with you on not only RDT the students, but the teachers, administrators, etc. too!
Nancy Edwards October 11, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Random drug testing is meant as a tool to identify students in early stages of drug use. Once a student is clearly exhibiting symptoms, it doesn't take a test to identify use, but confirm it. The student assistance counselors ALWAYS involve parents. This tool has proven to help students. As far as the argument of it going against ones freedom, it held up in a Supreme Court decision in Flemington, NJ. Please take the time to understand the importance of this issue by reading further. There are laws in place to protect the confidential issues of RDT and identify resources for help. It is not meant to involve the law. That will naturally happen if a student or adult doesn't get the help they need in the early stages and the disease progresses. And for those parents thinking, "I'm the Parent, Not My Kid"...as a counselor for almost 30 years...I've had many patients from great families which addiction took hold. Random Drug Testing should continue! Licensed Clinical Alcohol Drug Counselor

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