Pubdate: Fri, 12 Nov 2004
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2004 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Author: Timothy Hurley, Advertiser Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Parents opposed to voluntary student drug testing at Mid-Pacific
Institute are organizing in hopes of blocking what could become the
first program of its kind in Hawai'i.

A meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the school's Bakkan Auditorium
will discuss possible flaws with the proposed drug testing and offer
alternatives. The meeting, featuring speakers from the medical, legal
and academic community, is being organized by EJ and Lerisa Heroldt,
parents of two Mid-Pacific students.

Also scheduled to speak is entertainer Andy Bumatai, whose 15-year-old
son is a Mid-Pacific 10th-grader.

Bumatai said he opposes the proposed drug testing because it's already
available to parents and students in the private sector. Inviting a
for-profit company onto campus to conduct the testing, he said, would
open the door to any number of potential serious problems and divert
the school from its mission.

"If I pay $13,000 a year to a school, I want them to concentrate on
education, not drug testing," he said.

Officials at the 1,320-student college-preparatory school in Manoa
could not be reached yesterday because of Veterans Day, but they've
told parents they're hoping to start a voluntary program as early as

Under the proposal, middle and high school students would be tested
only if they agreed and their parents agreed. Urine samples would be
taken from randomly selected students, and the testing company would
notify only parents of test results. There would be no ramifications
at school for failing a drug test.

As proposed, it is strictly voluntary and intended to be discreet,
with no consequences for the school to deal with.

School president Joe Rice said recently that one of the program's
benefits is allowing students to use it as a tool against peer
pressure. If asked to take drugs, a Mid-Pacific student can simply
reply that they can't because of the testing, Rice said.

"But what does that teach our children?" said Bumatai. "Why do they
have to make excuses? Why can't they just say, 'I have a life. I want
to lead it, and drugs are for losers'? We need to teach our kids to
make good decisions."

Bumatai said he sees all kinds of potential problems, from abuses by
the testing contractor to the possibility of false readings and the
stigma attached to a child who's been branded.

"Let's say a student tries marijuana and (just as fast) decides it was
a mistake, he said. "The next day he's called to drug testing and for
two days (before the results are known) he knows the hammer is about
to drop, that his whole life is ruined. What if he decides to hurt
himself, maybe even attempt suicide? Who's going to be responsible for

The school's initiative follows a student drug testing proposal
offered two years ago in a bill by Senate President Robert Bunda,
D-22nd (North Shore, Wahiawa). The bill, supported by Gov. Linda
Lingle, sought to establish a drug-testing pilot project at several
public high schools, making the tests mandatory for students who
participate in school athletics or other "physically strenuous" activities.

But the legislation died, in part because of testimony that drug
testing would keep students away from extracurricular activities
rather than from drugs.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin