Pubdate: Tue, 22 Feb 2005
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2005 The Eagle-Tribune
Author: Shawn Regan
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Youth)


HAVERHILL - Schoo Committeman Scott W. Wood Jr. firmly believes drug
testing is the best way to fight drug use by students. At first, he favored
random testing of kids involved in after-school sports. But now, Wood
says testing students who teachers or administrators have reason to
believe are using drugs may be a better way to go. He also said allowing
parents opposed to drug testing to exclude their children might be a good
compromise for those opposed to the idea.

A group investigating drug use at Haverhill High School will begin
work this week in an effort to decide whether the city should drug
test students. The task force, established by the School Committee,
meets for the first time tomorrow at 5 p.m. at City Hall in the School
Department office. Wood proposed the task force because he believes
drug use is on the rise at the high school, based on his own knowledge
and results of a student survey. He believes one of the best ways to
reduce drug use by students is to test them, either randomly or based
on reasonable suspicion.

The 2003 Youth Risk Survey showed 49 percent of Haverhill High
students said they have used marijuana and 17 percent have used drugs
like heroin and cocaine. Some students have said the results are
flawed because many students do not take the survey seriously and some
make up answers.

Wood said the group will begin its work by closely reviewing results
of the survey and visiting school districts that test students. They
include Assabet Valley Vocational Technical High School in Marlborough
and Northeast Vocational High School in Wakefield.

Although the School Committee unanimously approved forming the task
force to study drug use at the high school, three members, including
Mayor James J. Fiorentini, have said they oppose randomly testing
students. Three members are undecided. Most members of Wood's task
force say they have yet to make up their minds on the testing.

Task force members include various school staffers such as a teacher
and a former School Committee member, some parents and Haverhill High
senior Mikaela Firland. Wood is looking for another student to join
the group.
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