By Alfa · Sep 18, 2004 · ·
  1. Alfa

    CLINTON TWP -- Nearly seven years after Hunterdon Central High School
    started a random drug testing policy, the North Hunterdon-Voorhees
    Regional High School District will begin its own this fall, testing
    students in athletics, extra-curricular activities, and students with
    driving permits.

    Implementation of random drug testing in the North-Voorhees district
    comes a little over a year after a state Supreme Court ruling in Joye
    vs. Hunterdon Central High School that upheld the school's random drug
    testing policy.

    In the spring, the North-Voorhees school board approved a final policy
    for the district.

    "I'm pleased we're going ahead with it," said board member Barbara
    Walter last Friday. "I think it will be helpful to the community and
    give the kids a good reason to say 'no' to peer pressure when

    Grant Funding

    Funded by a grant from The Walsh Group, a nationwide counseling firm
    for substance abuse, the district's policy will be assessed at the end
    of two years. Students can be tested for a number of drugs including
    marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and Ecstasy.

    Students whose parents fill out permission forms will also be eligible
    for random drug testing.

    At the end the two years, the district will have to decide "whether
    there is a real, overwhelming need for random drug testing of our
    kids," said Superintendent Charles Shaddow.

    "The question is whether this is a proper activity for public schools,
    or whether it's an area where parents, law enforcement and school
    officials should work together to educate students to remedy the
    problem," said Shaddow. "I think this is a debate that is going on
    around the region."

    In the Joye case, the state Supreme Court gave school districts clear
    guidelines on how to set up drug testing programs, said David Evans,
    who helped put together a task force that looked at drug testing in
    the North-Voorhees district. Evans, who has a son at North Hunterdon
    High School, helped establish a drug testing policy at Hunterdon Central.

    "You want to deter kids, not catch them," said Evans referring to
    random drug testing programs.

    Evans said Hunterdon Central had conducted studies, which showed the
    drug testing policy had been a deterrent to drug usage.

    "It's provide
    d a safer school environment, a safer learning
    environment," said Evans.

    The North-Voorhees school board is currently waiting to receive
    required forms from two research firms before it selects one to
    analyze the drug tests, said Shaddow. He said there have been no
    problems from parents returning the permission forms.

    In putting together the policy, the district worked with The Walsh
    Group, looked at drug testing policies at other high schools, and
    sought input from police, teachers, and administrators.

    Walter said she hoped the drug testing would provide good data "to
    truly test the effectiveness of the random drug testing program in our
    high school population."

    Drug Testing At Central

    In the late 1990's, Hunterdon Central started a drug testing policy
    after a survey showed that nearly a third of the school's students in
    the upper grades were using illegal drugs. The policy initially only
    tested athletes, but later expanded to include students with parking
    permits and those involved in extracurricular activities. The school
    already had other measures in place including locker searches and a
    counseling program.

    Four years ago, the expanding drug testing policy resulted in a
    lawsuit against the high school by the American Civil Liberties Union
    and three parents. A major concern of parents had been that the
    school's policy infringed on the privacy rights of students. In the
    Joye case, Justice Peter Verniero argued that students have a
    "diminished expectation of privacy in a public school."

    Shaddow said one of the reasons the North-Voorhees school board
    decided to go ahead with random drug testing was a concern over drug
    overdoses by both current and former students. "Board members felt
    that one overdose was one too many," he said. "If this can be
    prevented, then possibly random drug testing may be the way to go."

    "I don't think any school is immune from what's going on in society,"
    he added.

    "I think the people in the community and the board love the children
    and want to do everything they can to keep them safe," said Shaddow.

    Although there have been concerns about drug overdoses, Shaddow said
    there is no indication that there has been an increase in drug and
    alcohol usage by students in the district.

    Shaddow said the district currently has a substance abuse education
    program along with a disciplinary policy for alcohol and drug usage.
    The policy lays out penalties for the selling and distribution drugs.
    In addition, the district has a reasonable suspicion policy under
    which a student is reported to the office if a teacher suspects that
    the student is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The parent is
    then contacted and a drug test is conducted outside the school within
    24 hours, said Shaddow.

    The superintendent said that the number of students that have had to
    take a "reasonable suspicion" drug test has been "minimal."

    Shaddow said the number of emails he has received from parents has
    been roughly evenly split between those favoring and those opposing
    random drug testing.

    "Some say this is what parents should be doing and not the schools.
    Others say 'I want to know if my child is taking drugs," he said.

    If a student tests positive under the random drug testing policy,
    consequences could include notification a parent, a mandatory medical
    examination, or possible removal from school. Students could also be
    barred from participating in a sport or extracurricular activity, or
    have their parking permit revoked for two months.

    The decision in May by the North Hunterdon-Voorhees school board to
    approve the final random drug testing policy wasn't unanimous. Two
    board members, Katherine Schwab and Debra Roosen, said it was unfair
    to target only a segment of the student body for testing, and that it
    would be difficult for the identity of students chosen for testing to
    remain confidential.

    Roosen did not return phone calls.

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  1. Poppy Planter
    Drug testing in high schools is a ridiculous concept! I should know, I got kicked out of mine senior year in early february because I failed a drug test for marijuana! Marijuana isn't even a drug!! It is a plant! And if you happen to set it on fire, there are some effects!
    Steroids and sports are bad though. Pay attention to that New Jersey kids with necks like my thigh and balls like small grapes, its a terribly unhealthy thing to do to your body!
  2. blipblop
    Mmm, drug testing in school, great plan, it couldn't possibly just make drug users less willing to turn up and get an education, could it?
  3. dyingtomorrow
    They can only drug test kids in extracirricular activities in the U.S. - I can think of at least 2 things wrong with this dumb ass policy.
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