Lake Zurich District 95 hears a big no on drug testing
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A proposal to subject Lake Zurich High School students to random drug testing met with overwhelming public opposition at a forum Wednesday night.
One after another, audience members told Lake Zurich Unit 95 board members and administrators they object to the testing plan, which would be limited to students in extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs or teens who drive to school. U.S. courts have limited drug testing at public schools to such optional activities.
About 100 people attended the discussion at Lake Zurich Middle School North in Hawthorn Woods.
Some of those attendees doubted testing would be confidential, particularly if the students chosen for testing would be removed from class by adults for the procedure.
"All their friends are going to see them taken out of their class," Dan Fewkes said. "There is no confidentiality."
Other attendees said it infringed on parental responsibilities.
"A drug-free environment should be the school's job," Karen Abry said. "Drug-free students should be a parent's job."
District 95 officials have been developing a drug-testing policy for about a year. The concept first surfaced about three years ago but was tabled because of district financial problems, officials said Wednesday.
The latest proposal is available on the district's website, lz95.org . The plan calls for drug tests to be conducted up to six times during a school year.
Each time, a computer program would randomly select 15 students. Students could be selected more than once per year.
Students found to have been using illegal drugs would be suspended from participating in activities for half a season or academic year. Second offenses would result in activity suspension for the rest of the year.
Parking privileges would be lost, too, officials have said.
The effort would cost the district about $3,600 annually, officials said. Drug testing is not being considered for the district's seven other schools.
A few parents questioned the scientific effectiveness of drug testing, particularly the use of hair samples that's been proposed. Some people asked from the audience if teachers have been tested for drug use, but no response was provided.
Later in the session, board member Doug Goldberg said he favors submitting employees to drug testing.
Of the 24 audience members who commented or asked questions, only one spoke in favor of the proposed policy.
A parental survey on the issue, the second this year, is expected to be sent out in about a week, board President Kathy Brown said.
The board will discuss the matter at a Nov. 3 committee of the whole meeting. Officials expect to vote on a drug-testing policy by the end of the year.
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