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Dist. 203 passes on random drug testing

<p>File Photo</p>

File Photo

Student athletes or students who participate in any co-curricular activity with Naperville District 203 schools will not subjected to mandatory random student drug testing.

District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges told the Board of Education Monday night the district should remain focused on drug education and prevention. “I am not prepared to bring forth a recommendation,” he said.

Instead of mandatory drug testing, School Board member Mike Jaensch asked if the district considered program where parents could opt-in or opt-out of having their child tested for drugs. Jaensch said the district could contract with a vendor and offer it as a service.

Bridges said district support services personnel already have the ability to refer parents to vendors that provide drug testing services. Beyond that, there has been no demand for the district providing such a service.

The subject of random drug testing came up in February 2013 during the annual meeting of the Co-Curricular Code Committee when a coach raised the idea of requiring students covered by the code to submit to mandatory drug testing in an effort to deter students from making bad choices concerning drug use, as well as getting help to those who need it.

While no changes to the code were proposed at that time, the School Board asked the two high school athletic directors to research drug testing polices in other area districts. In addition, district administration looked at national research, sought legal advice from the district’s attorneys and medical professionals, and discussed the matter with members of Mid-States Benchmarking Consortium.

The decision was not to pursue mandatory random student drug testing.

The rationale behind the decision was three-fold, according to a report from Bob Ross, assistant superintendent for secondary education.

Firstly, research shows that the benefit of mandatory random student drug testing is not as great as one might expect.

Also, the district could expect to see a rise in legal fees. While mandatory drug testing has been found to be constitutional, the added cost comes in the form of legal challenges concerning the chain of evidence, credibility of laboratory used and privacy issues.

Administrators also questioned if it drug testing is a proper role for a public school district.

Bridges said the district will continue to support the anti-drug programs already in place, like the “Blue Card” and “Red Card” system. If a potential drug use is suspected, a staff member completes a form noting any behavior observed and what steps were taken. The “card” is submitted to the Problem Solving Team, which determines a course of action. When appropriate, parents are given information on drug assessments, treatment and support.

Both high schools also are active with the Power of Choice Campaign, sponsored by 360 Youth Services; Operation Snowball; and other student organizations.

Bridges said he directed district personnel to continue to look for ways to strengthen existing partnerships with community organizations and better ways to provide families with information.

In other action, the School Board assigned schools to a 162 single-family home development under construction in District 203.

Students from the new Arbor Trails subdivision, located south of Maple Avenue near Benedictine University, will attend Steeple Run Elementary, Kennedy Junior High and Naperville Central.

Deputy Superintendent Kaine Osburn said the district can expect nine families to enroll students before the end of the spring semester. Because of the busy intersections, students will be bused to school.

The development is expected to be built out in two years.

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