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Critics pan Hart drug testing

Officials claim program will offer prevention benefits

Posted: February 5, 2009 12:54 a.m.
Updated: February 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Plans for a voluntary random drug testing program for Hart district students were met with criticism Wednesday night as some board members expressed concern that the program would not deter teens from using drugs.

"People actually doing (drugs) are not going to sign up for it," said Paul Strickland, William S. Hart Union High School District board member.

Strickland views drugs as part of the environment of SCV teens.

"We are living with a situation where an Olympic hero who just won eight gold medals is on YouTube with a bong," he said, referring to swimmer Michael Phelps.

District officials, including Superintendent Jaime Castellanos, view a voluntary random drug testing program as a deterrent for students and drug use.

"We believe the program gives students a way to say no," said Darryl Adams, director of human resources.
Other board members Wednesday considered the program a benefit in initiating conversations about drugs between parents and students.

"I see this program as really supporting the parents," said board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine.

Hart board members unanimously approved the program Wednesday night.

The drug testing program comes as the Hart district has seen a significant increase in the number of expulsions and suspensions related to student drugs and alcohol use, said Superintendent Jaime Castellanos.

The most common drugs among the local youth are marijuana and prescription drugs.

Students who take part in the drug testing program must sign a permission slip with their parents. If a test comes back positive for drugs, parents can do nothing, find help for their student on their own or talk to a school counselor.

The program starts at all of the Hart district junior high and high schools with a pilot program from March through May.

Funding comes from a $216,000 Department of Education grant for the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12 school years. No district money would be used for the program.

Drug test results stay between the third-party drug company and the parents and school officials are kept out of the findings.


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