PTSA opposes school districts random drug test policy
The letter stated:
“As parents and community members we are concerned about the substance abuse problems facing young people but do not agree that drug testing is the answer. We also are concerned that the policy does not demand the testing of everyone who is involved in these activities such as staff, volunteers and coaches. If we are to hold students accountable the adults involved in the programs should be held to the same standards.
Westwood High School PTSA respectfully asks the Board of Trustees to consider eliminating or revising this recently adopted policy.”
The letter was signed by the PTSA board of directors Brown, Judy Wallace, Alisa Turner, Staci Hammontree, Lana Beal and Robin Chapin.
Henry Bietz, superintendent of Westwood School District and principal at Westwood High and Fletcher Walker Elementary, said staff and coaches could not legally be tested unless drug testing was part of their job description. However he would have the district’s legal counsel look into the matter.
Bietz said all students who participate in sports are required to fill out a form in which they pledge not to use drugs or alcohol but the district received proof students are not keeping their word. Therefore the only way to enforce the policy is by random testing.
He added if a student is suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at school law enforcement would be notified and a sheriff’s deputy would administer the testing. Coming to school under the influence was a different issue.
Trustee Nick Ceaglio said, “The policy is to provide support for students not to punish them.”
The district will provide appropriate interventions for students testing positive, said Bietz.
In a follow-up to the presentation made to the board of trustees, Wallace compiled a list of reasons PTSA does not support the Westwood High drug testing policy as written. They included:
PTSA supports drug prevention programs and activities which encourage young people to lead healthy, safe lives while promoting trust and respect among students and adults.
Drug testing of students who do not use substances creates an atmosphere of distrust that creates barriers between those non-using students and adults.
Tests are expensive taking money from other programs.
The question of whether or not there will be adequate services for students who test positive.
The policy does not include adults.
Alcohol creates more problems in young people than all other illegal drugs combined yet drug testing does not reliably detect the use of alcohol.
Will tests detect the use of anabolic steroids?
Participation in extra-curricular activities has been shown to be an effective deterrent to substance use.
Bietz told Brown he would get PTSA a copy of the policy on random drug testing so they would better understand how it will be administered.
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