Jefferson Considers Random Drug Testing at High School
Board of Education to vote on policy this month.
Voluntary random drug testing could be instituted at Jefferson Township High School starting in the 2012-13 school year if the Board of Education approves the policy at its meeting on July 18. The policy had a first reading at the June Board of Education meeting.
If the policy is accepted, parents will receive a letter explaining the program around mid-August, said superintendent Joseph Kraemer. Parents will be able to sign students up for testing at no cost to them.
The policy states that a minimum 2.5 percent of the students who have signed up will be tested per month. The district is accepting bid from outside firms to do the testing.
“We want to keep the administration out of it as much as possible,” Kraemer said. “We don’t ever want a student to think that he or she was chosen for testing because someone on the staff doesn’t ‘like’ him or her.”
The chosen firm will come to the school on random dates throughout the year. Random numbers will be chosen and those students will be asked to provide a sample.
“Since it’s random, some people could be chosen more than once, and some may not be chosen at all through the year,” Kraemer said.
The district currently has no random drug testing policy in place, and chose to make the program voluntary and start with the high school as a compromise among the board.
“Some wanted to start with the high school and middle school, and some wanted to make it mandatory for athletes, those who participate in co-curricular activities and those who have parking privileges at the high school,” Kraemer said. “The final decision was to start by making it completely voluntary and see what kind of a response we get.”
Reasons behind the voluntary program are to raise awareness of drug-related issues and to act as a deterrent to drug use.
“We figure this can give kids one more reason to say no if they are offered drugs,” Kraemer said. “Maybe the kid can say, ‘no, my parents signed me up for random testing, and with my luck my number will come up tomorrow.’ If we can help even one kid not get started, it’s a success.”
The district is currently looking for firms to do the work. Estimated cost will be about $20,000 per year, “depending on how many tests we do,” Kraemer said.
Based on the program’s success, it may be expanded into the middle school in the future, Kraemer said, adding that the elementary schools are not being considered for this program.