Bowing to overwhelming community opposition, Lake Zurich Unit District 95 board members on Thursday essentially scuttled a controversial plan for random drug testing at the local high school.
The final straw was a community survey, the results of which were released Thursday, that showed 76 percent of District 95 parents are against the plan. Similar opposition surfaced at an October public hearing.
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Jim Burke was among the board members who acknowledged a drug-testing program wouldn't work without community support.
"I think it's a dead issue," Burke said.
Board President Kathy Brown agreed.
"The board's not interested in pushing an issue people aren't interested in," she said.
The drug-testing plan wasn't formally killed Thursday. After a brief discussion, board members agreed a planned vote should be taken Nov. 17 as scheduled, even though the fate of the plan is pretty clear.
Trustee Tony Pietro suggested tabling the plan, which would leave it in political limbo indefinitely. But Doug Goldberg said a vote would give residents closure and others agreed.
"We've obviously put the community through a lot of angst on this issue," Goldberg said.
Resident Keith Petropoulos was among the most vocal critics of the plan. With the plan all but abandoned, Petropoulos said the board and administrators now can "channel this energy" and focus on educational programs, such as guest speakers who would talk to students about the dangers of drugs.
Five of the board's seven members attended the discussion Thursday night. Michael Finn and Kathleen Wallis arrived after the debate was over.
According to the survey, the results of which are viewable at lz95.org, 1,455 of the roughly 1,900 respondents opposed or strongly opposed forcing students to submit to random drug tests. In contrast, only 21 percent of people said they were in favor or strongly in favor of such tests.
Answering a second question, 79 percent of people who were opposed to testing said they believe it is not the school's responsibility. It was by far the most popular answer of the seven options.
For the people who favor random drug testing, 54 percent said they believe such a program would be an effective deterrent for drug use.
District 95 officials had been developing a drug-testing policy for high school students for about a year.
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.
Board members thanked residents for completing the survey and sharing their opinions at meetings and in letters. But Goldberg also took a shot at those who made what he called personal attacks and accusations against the panel.
"I'm talking to you, Keith," Goldberg said, singling out Petropolous.