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posted: 10/14/2011 5:45 AM

New survey on drug tests heading to Dist. 95 parents

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Parents of Lake Zurich Unit District 95 students will be surveyed next week about a controversial proposal for random drug testing at the local high school, officials said Thursday.

School board members will discuss the results of the survey at a Nov. 3 meeting and could vote on the matter Nov. 17, board President Kathy Brown said during a meeting at Lake Zurich Middle School North in Hawthorn Woods.

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"We know the community is eager to find out what the final determination will be," Brown said.

An invitation to complete the online survey will be sent to parents whose email addresses are on file with the district office. Parents without email addresses will receive printed copies of the survey, district spokeswoman Jean Malek said before the meeting.

Board members discussed allowing community members who don't have children enrolled in District 95 schools to take the survey but rejected the idea. Preventing multiple submissions by the same person using different email addresses would be difficult, as would ensuring all respondents actually live in the district, officials said.

Board members and administrators do want to hear from the general public, however. The survey questions might be posted on the district website, lz95.org, with an invitation to email board members with opinions, Superintendent Mike Egan said.

The survey questions have not been finalized, Malek said.

District 95 officials have been developing a drug-testing policy for Lake Zurich High School students for about a year. The proposal is viewable at lz95.org.

Under the plan, testing would be limited to students in extracurricular activities or those who drive to school. U.S. courts have restricted 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 week 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.

The plan had relatively few supporters that night.

Audience members on both sides of the issue spoke to the board at the start of Thursday's meeting.

Tom Habley, who identified himself as a counselor who has worked with drug addicts, supported the testing proposal and said it gives children "a reason to say no."

Cindy Kennedy, the mother of three District 95 students, objected to the plan, saying the testing process wouldn't be confidential. Cellphones and texting "(make) the gossip grapevine almost instantaneous," she said.

The upcoming survey will be the district's second on the matter this year. In the first survey, most respondents expressed support for unspecified random drug testing. But in separate questions, a majority of people also opposed using hair and urine samples for drug testing when more specific questions were asked.

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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