Reasonable Suspicion: Senate Eyes Possible Drug Testing

A not-so-new problem is on the minds of Student Senators; concerned about expulsions due to drug abuse in school, Student Senators have suggested a drug testing policy. 

“We agreed that there is an issue in our school,” said junior Emiley Rios. “We discussed it with Mr. Saari at our Student Senate meeting and brought it up at the school board meeting.” 

While some students believe that the drug tests should be random, the administration has a different idea. 

“It would not be a random drug test, it would be based on reasonable suspicion,” said principal Tom Chambers. “Reasonable suspicion is what gives us the right to search students if we think something’s up.”

Chambers said that the administration has been looking at other schools that have drug policies in place, such as Cashton High School. Cashton requires drug tests based on reasonable suspicion. Teachers are trained to watch for signs that a student is doing drugs. Strange behavior has to be verified with other teachers before a student is tested for drugs. 

Reasonable suspicion could also help students who may not be having a drug problem, but other problems in their lives. 

“If someone seems to be showing signs that something’s wrong, and they fail a drug test, the school will call the students parents and let them know that something is up,” said Chambers. 

But would reasonable suspicion be better than random? 

“Both sides have good points,” said Rios. “Reasonable suspicion is if someone has reason to believe that someone else is doing drugs, but then with random we can maybe catch some people who don’t seem like they would be doing drugs.” 

So far, drug testing has not been voted on by the school board. Student Senators brought it up at the school board meeting on February 15. 

“I just talked about it, they [the school board] didn’t really give me feedback,” said Rios. 

It would take a lot of time, money and energy to make a drug testing policy a reality. Chambers said it would first have to go through all the administrators and the policy committee. Then a recommendation would have to be made for it to be discussed with the full school board. If it got there, the school board would have to take at least two months to discuss and decide. 

The school board has not openly discussed whether or not they are in favor of reasonable suspicion or random drug testing. The Student Senate has yet to decide as well. 

“We [the Student Senate] haven’t really talked about whether we want one or the other…I know everyone wants these people [drug abusers] to be caught for the better of our school,” said Rios. 

Rios hopes for a drug testing policy, but thinks that the school will have trouble affording it. 

“Currently, we do have expense and budget issues, but we do have to assure the safety of students,” said Chambers.

Beginning tomorrow, Paw Print Online will be hosting an online discussion about the drug testing proposal.  Come back to weigh in on the debate!

Edited 3.4.10: The online discussion can be found here.