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updated: 11/5/2010 4:32 PM

Random drug testing mulled at Lake Zurich High

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Lake Zurich Unit District 95 may bolster its effort to prevent substance abuse by high school students through random testing and education.

Public schools cannot make every student submit to drug tests, courts have ruled. Only pupils involved in clubs, sports or other extracurricular activities can be forced to do so.

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At a nonvoting District 95 meeting Thursday night, officials raised the idea of pursuing testing for all high school pupils within the parameters of the law.

District 95 board members said parents could be offered a chance to voluntarily sign up their teenagers for the random testing pool if they are not in extracurricular activities.

"It just seems to me there would be parents who are interested in this," board member John Kropf said.

Thomas Habley, a Lake Zurich resident who is a counselor and coach at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, spoke to the District 95 board from the audience on the importance of drug testing for all students.

Habley said teens have a reason to say "no" to drugs if they can tell their peers they are subject to random testing at school. He said adults must take charge to erode a drug culture that's too pervasive in society.

"This is a great moment," Habley said of the drug testing discussion. "And as a parent in this community, I am so grateful that we're doing this work here tonight."

Antioch and Lakes high schools are among the Lake County schools that have drug testing programs in place.

Also on the table at District 95 is a proposal to create a full-time job of student assistance program coordinator for the 2011-12 academic year. Such an employee would be certified as a social worker and drug counselor.

Prevention and education programs, individual counseling and interventions would be part of the job description. Grayslake, Antioch and Lakes are high schools among those with student assistance program coordinators.

In the 2010 Illinois Youth Survey on overall trends and specific issues related to substance abuse and violence, results show 24 percent of Lake Zurich High's sophomores used marijuana in the past 30 days and 33 percent in the past year.

Pot use by seniors was reported at 30 percent in the past 30 days and 40 percent in the past year.

Roosevelt University released a study this summer that ranked the suburbs among the worst nationally for heroin-related problems. Heroin overdoses have been reported to be on the rise in Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

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