Livingston New Jersey has proposed a plan to begin random drug tests on high school students within its district. Causing a heated debate between, students, teachers, parents, and even the ACLU has weighed in. After 52 arrests from 2015 to 2017 the school district is hoping the random tests will be a form of “prevention, not punishment” as put by Superintendent Christina Steffner.
This is not a new idea. Livingston is just the latest school district to adopt these policies. Prior to her time in Livingston Steffner was head of the Hunterdon Central Reginal School District which also has random drug testing. In Lacey New Jersey, the same random testing takes place for high schoolers. It also has a voluntary program for middle schoolers, the first of its kind in NJ.
Not everyone would be part of the testing. Due to the prevalent court law as set by the Supreme Court and the NJ Supreme Court, some will be able to opt out. Those automatically enrolled would be any student participating in athletics or any other extracurricular activity and those who park on campus. There would also be a voluntary inclusion into the testing.
If the student tests positive for substances, the school would inform the parents. The law does not allow the student to be suspended. However there may be a suspension from extracurricular activities until a clean drug test can be provided. As stated on the school’s website about the case, the goal is not ostracizing the student but support.
The ACLU sees this less about prevention and more of an invasion into the students’ lives. In their letter they say that random drug testing, “…erodes trust between students and educators and makes young people into perpetual suspects on school grounds. Promoting students’ sense of safety and security is plainly valuable in its own right, but it also has desirable consequences related to student drug use.”
While several studies have been done on the policies effectiveness, there isn’t an overall consensus. Steffner believes that drug testing isn’t the right decision for every school district. They’ll spend a year collecting information and feedback from the community.
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