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Hart school district approves drug testing

Students question effectiveness of voluntary program

Posted: February 5, 2009 11:32 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A 90-day voluntary random drug testing program will begin at every Hart district school in March, but some local teenagers remained skeptical Thursday.

"Kids aren't going to stop doing drugs because they might get randomly caught," said 17-year-old Jenna Kunkle, a West Ranch High School senior.

District officials consider the program an effective deterrent for student drug use, said Darryl Adams, director of human resources.

Hart district board members unanimously approved the program Wednesday yet some members question the program's approach.

"When we have it totally voluntary, it really limits how effective it's going to be," said Dennis King, William S. Hart Union High School District board member, on Thursday.

When first proposed more than a year ago, school officials considered initiating a mandatory drug testing program only for students involved in extracurricular activities.

The approved drug testing program includes all students and requires parents and their students to sign a permission slip together.

"Drug use is a problem and no administrator or parent wants kids to think drug use is okay," said 17-year-old Dylan Davis, a West Ranch High School senior.

"However, a school's job is to educate," Davis said. "The more they focus on a student's off-campus life, the less focused they are on the student's education, which should be the number-one priority."

The program does not use any money from the district or Hart district parents. The district will receive a $216,000 Department of Education grant for the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12 school years.

The third-party drug company handles all of the testing, leaving teachers and administrators out of the drug-testing process.

With a green light from the board, district officials are working on a marketing plan to brand the program as something that's helpful for Hart district parents, Adams said.

School officials will visit schools, parent group meetings, City Council meetings and use e-mails to promote the voluntary random drug-testing program, Adams said.

Adams experienced a voluntary random drug-testing program when he was a school principal.

"I felt that it worked then and it will give students an opportunity to say no," he said.
(Emily Heckelman contributed to this report.)


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