Should high school students be subject to random drug tests?

Naperville weighs drug tests at high schools

Officials say marijuana use 'rampant,' consider random screening for athletes, others in extracurricular activities

From the Chicago Tribune:

By Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune reporter
6:57 p.m. CDT, April 2, 2013

Some high school athletes in Naperville may eventually be subjected to random drug tests.

Officials from Naperville North and Central high schools say marijuana use has become "rampant," and they would like to be more proactive.

The issue came up as a committee of administrators, coaches, parents and students performed an annual review of Naperville Unit District 203's co-curricular code.

"The code isn't always acting as the deterrent that we'd like it to," Bob Ross, assistant superintendent for secondary education, told the school board this week.

Ross said group members asked what could be done to make it easier for students to make good decisions and would like to explore the possibility of random drug tests. The tests would apply not only to athletes but to students involved in other extracurricular activities as well.

Naperville North Athletic Director Jim Konrad said there have been 30 violations of the co-curricular code at his school this year, of which 24 were marijuana-related.

"Our biggest concern is the pressure on kids is pretty severe now," Konrad said. "Marijuana is rampant in the schools. If there's anything we can do to assist parents and assist the kids to say no, I think it's a positive thing."

Central Athletic Director Andy Lutzenkirchen characterized the problem at his school in the same way.

Board member Terry Fielden asked whether students caught with drugs in their systems would be turned over to police.

"I don't think I could support anything other than giving them help and trying to get them some benefit from it as opposed to some other action," he said.

Konrad said the code currently calls for students who are caught using drugs to be referred to a drug and alcohol counselor in addition to being suspended from extracurricular participation. Officials said they have not discussed whether there would be any legal consequences.

Board member Susan Crotty said she was not yet taking a position on the proposal but believes the line between parenting and the actions of school officials seems to blur.

Konrad said that while some parents think the code should be done away with entirely, others say they like being able to remind their children their actions can affect their ability to participate in their sport or activity.

School board President Mike Jaensch said that in his eyes, drug testing would be "a tool for the parent first and foremost with our support."

Konrad and Lutzenkirchen plan to talk to other districts about whether they drug test and how they go about doing so. Officials also will research legal and privacy issues as well as costs.

The district plans to continue the discussion at the June 17 school board meeting.

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