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updated: 1/8/2014 4:28 PM

No drug testing for District 203 students

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Athletes and club members in Naperville Unit District 203 will not be subjected to mandatory random drug testing, school administrators said.

The district will focus on drug prevention programs rather than screenings, they said.

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Superintendent Dan Bridges this week told school board members he does not recommend the district implement drug testing for students who participate in sports or activities, a possibility that had been considered for about a year.

Administrators looked into testing students for drugs under the co-curricular code, which governs all who participate in athletics or activities. But they said research indicates such screenings may not be as beneficial as originally believed, and there could be legal challenges, privacy concerns and issues with overstepping the proper role of a public school district, according to a memo to the school board.

While District 203 will not begin drug testing, Bridges said staff members -- especially at Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools -- will look to strengthen existing partnerships with community organizations focused on preventing drug use.

Such collaborations could include continued work with 360 Youth Services, KidsMatter, other area school districts, police, the DuPage County Health Department, the Linden Oaks mental health center of Edward Hospital and Rosecrance substance abuse treatment facilities.

Board member Kristin Fitzgerald said the community will appreciate efforts on the district's part to increase communication and cooperation against teen drug use.

"It's clearly an issue of concern," she said.

Both high schools already have participated in 360 Youth Services' Power of Choice campaign since 2003 by surveying students to provide accurate information about how many are using drugs and alcohol. Administrators said the campaign helps teach students they are actually in the majority when they make positive choices to avoid illegal substances.

Newer efforts launched last fall include 360 Youth Services' Parents Use Your Power campaign, which provides age-targeted tips to help kids avoid destructive habits, and KidsMatter's ParentsMatterToo program, which includes a website with videos about drug use issues, the formation of parent conversation circles and a speaker series.

This is the second year in which each high school's staff has included a dean of interventions. While the position has emphasized assisting students who return to school after hospitalizations, the new deans also have worked to improve services to families of students who have received treatment for drug use, according to the memo.

Bridges said the district will continue to listen to residents to determine if it needs to take a more assertive role in drug testing in the future.

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