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Greencastle-Antrim School Board wants to drug test students

August 20, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- The Greencastle-Antrim School Board said it would like proof that district students are clean and sober.

The subject of random drug testing peppered board discussion Thursday as members debated the merits of adding a school resource officer to its halls to proactively deter students from criminal activity.

The criminal activity on most board members' minds was drug use.

In a consensus Thursday, the board asked its administration to "investigate" whether or not it could have a random drug testing policy.

Drug and alcohol use in the school might be more prevalent than adults realize, student representative Jake Statler said.

"Teachers and administrators think they know what is going on, but they don't," he said.

Board President Dan Fisher also acknowledged the probability of greater drug use than what is reflected in police and administrative reports.

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"I think we have more of a drug and alcohol problem than we may all want to admit," he said.

School resource officers often address student drug use with educational programs and criminal reprimand, Superintendent Greg Hoover said.

Yet as discussion veered consistently to drug and alcohol use, Director Arnie Jansen suggested drug testing as an inexpensive means of proactively deterring students from a common criminal activity.

"If you are looking for a deterrent effect, that (testing) is a deterrent," Jansen said.

Who to test was also at issue.

Hoover proposed limiting the random testing to student-athletes and those involved in extra-curricular activities.

"I'd say, 'Let's do drug testing,'" Hoover said. "As long as it is totally random."

Students have known this might be down the road and many have questioned whether it would violate their privacy, student representative Ashley Frankenfield said.

Statler cautioned the board about student opposition to the idea.

"I know drug testing will make a lot of people (students) mad," he said.

Both Frankenfield and Statler acknowledged that when it comes to who uses and who doesn't, it is the students who are acutely aware.

"You definitely hear about it and you definitely know there are kids around you who are dealing with drugs," Frankenfield said.

However, both students representatives said they favored the idea of testing randomly.

Drug testing could provide interim benefits for the district while the school resource officer debate continues, Director Eric Holtzman said.

Hoover said he will investigate the issue and bring his findings back to the board.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, in 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld random drug testing for student athletes and those participating in extra-curricular activities. However, in 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that random testing of students involved in extra-curricular activities or sports violated the state constitutional provision of privacy.

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