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updated: 10/10/2011 1:48 PM

Lake Zurich Dist. 95 board to talk drug testing again

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After hearing from parents who overwhelmingly opposed a proposal for random drug-testing, Lake Zurich Unit District 95 officials will tackle the controversial subject again this week.

Board members will gather as a committee of the whole Thursday night to review the timeline for a parental survey that should be going out soon.

They'll also set the schedule for future discussions about the proposal, talks that are expected to culminate with a vote by the end of the year.

The meeting is set for 6:15 p.m. at Lake Zurich Middle School North in Hawthorn Woods.

Officials say they won't debate the merits of the proposed policy Thursday.

"We want to get the survey out and get the results back in, and that's when we'll have a more substantive discussion," board President Kathy Brown said Monday.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to share their opinions on the plan at the start of the meeting, however.

District 95 officials have been developing a drug-testing policy for Lake Zurich High School students for about a year.

Testing would be limited to students in extracurricular activities or those who drive to school. U.S. courts have limited drug testing at public schools to such optional activities.

Teens 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.

Dozens of people who attended a public forum on the plan last Wednesday at Middle School North strongly opposed the concept. Some said it interfered with their parental rights, and others said it unfairly singles out kids in extracurricular programs. Concerns about privacy and test effectiveness also were voiced.

Two board members have since voiced concerns about the proposal, too.

The upcoming survey will be the district's second on the matter this year. In the first survey, most respondents expressed support for random drug testing, officials have said.

But the first survey was general and didn't have the specifics of the proposal, which is viewable at lz95.org.

Brown said she wasn't surprised to hear the opposition at last week's forum. She knew some people are against the plan, and she expects some changed their minds after the first survey and now oppose random drug testing.

"But I know there are still people who are strongly in favor of it," Brown said.

Board member Michael Finn expects some parents will take the opportunity to share their feelings about the proposal Thursday. Future meetings will offer additional opportunities for public comment, he said.

Few public high schools in the North or Northwest suburbs randomly test students for drug use. Antioch and Lakes high schools are among those that do.

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