Pubdate: Thu, 18 Mar 2004
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Jason King
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Lake Zurich School Leaders Are Taking A Look At Implementing Random Drug
Testing In The District In The Near Future.

District 95 school board president Jan Putbress said the issue of
drug, alcohol and tobacco testing has been simmering on the board's
back burner for awhile now.

On Wednesday, the district's policy review committee, which comprises
board members and administrators, began talking about the issue.

"We're planning to target specific issues this year and this is one of
them," she said. "This isn't going to be an easy journey, but we
shouldn't stick our head in the sand and say we don't have a problem
(with drug and alcohol use among students)."

A 2001 Supreme Court ruling gave school districts the right to test
students who take part in extracurricular activities for drugs.

District 95 has a policy that makes using, possessing, distributing,
purchasing or selling alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco a
disciplinary offense but has no provision for testing of students.

Gene Curran, athletic director at Lake Zurich High School, recently
attended a workshop on dealing with student drug and alcohol abuse and
said the district needs to take a tougher stance.

This year, he said, he has had 23 drug-or alcohol-related
disciplinary cases among athletes.

But school board member Gary Robillard said drug testing, without a
goal in sight, isn't the answer.

"Isn't drug testing just identifying the symptom of the problem?" he
said. "What's our goal? We need to find the reasons kids are doing

Robillard said he would support a system in which students would first
be educated about the dangers of drug use before being punished.

"I just want to be an education system, not a penal system," he said.
"We know the penal system doesn't work in deterring drug use. But if
you want to do drug testing of athletes just because it's legal,
that's silly."

Interim superintendent Don Gossett agreed and told the board to expect
the issue to become a controversial one.

"It can't just be a punitive thing, it needs to have an educational
aspect, and that needs to be more than just the kids," he said. "It
needs to include the parents because that's where the education aspect
takes place."

Putbress asked Curran and high school administrators to begin
compiling statistics on drug, alcohol and smoking related cases so the
board can get an idea of the extent of the problem.

She said she hopes the board can begin talking about the testing issue
this summer.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin