New Jersey Town Could Drug Test Middle Schoolers
On Wednesday, the Board of Education will vote on the proposed policy, under which sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Belvidere, N.J., would be subject to testing, CBS New York reports.
Oxford Elementary School Principal Sandra Szabocsik tells ParentDish she has gotten mostly positive feedback from the parents she's spoken to about the proposal.
"Belvidere is a small town and there's not a whole lot to do," Szabocsik tells ParentDish. "The younger kids tend to hang out with their older brothers and sisters. The hope is that knowing that they may be drug tested at school the next day will serve as a deterrent."
The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees.
"Random drug testing does not reduce drug use among young people," Jay Rorty, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, tells ParentDish. "The high cost, high incidence of false positives and intrusive nature of the test make random testing a poor tool in the important work of drug education."
The drug test itself is a "five panel" test and officials are not allowed to say exactly what they are testing for. Szabocsik says she's unsure if alcohol is included, but says the district considers alcohol a drug.
Drug tests usually check for marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines and PCP, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, "if a school has a particular problem with other drugs, such as MDMA, GHB or steroids, they can include testing for these drugs as well," the NIDA website states.
If a Belvidere student tests positive, he or she will be given in-school counseling, as well as a referral to an intervention if appropriate. Szabocisik says she's not sure what happens if a student refuses to get counseling.
To participate in the voluntary program, both parents and students must consent.
School officials note that kids who test positive will not be punished, nor will the police be notified. Rather, they would get counseling or be referred to a drug rehab center.
Drug testing is already mandatory for Belvidere High School students who park on campus, join clubs or participate in sports, CBS New York reports.
Schools have had greater freedom to conduct random drug testing since a 2002 Supreme Court ruling allowed random drug testing for all middle school and high school students participating in competitive extracurricular activities -- not just sports, which was the previous policy.
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