Hayden may test for drugs

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— About 80 percent of Hayden High School students left campus on a daily basis for lunch last year, Principal Nick Schafer said. If those students want to keep that option, they may have to get their parents' permission -- and submit to random drug testing.

The Hayden Board of Education will decide at its meeting today whether to approve a policy that would require students who want to leave campus during lunch to sign a waiver authorizing the school to give them random drug tests at any time during the school year. Students who do not want to sign the waiver would have to submit to a closed-campus policy.

The proposed policy was developed by the high school's parent-teacher group, the School Improvement Team, as a result of the findings that drug use, particularly marijuana, is rampant in the school. In June, the School Improvement Team sent surveys to every high school family in the district; about 20 were returned. The results indicated that while some parents and students strongly opposed the idea of random drug testing, most parents supported the idea and thought it would improve school climate.

"With the size of this school, we should be able to control (drug use)," Schafer said.

But some students say the school cannot control it.

According to a national Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in 1990, almost one-third of all high school students admitted to using marijuana at least once.

Junior Jordan Marchbanks said several students in the school do smoke or have smoked marijuana, but he did not think it hindered their class performance or learning. He also said most do not smoke before or during school but on weekends or occasionally at night.

Senior Jordan Rolando agreed. He said he and several other seniors are so against the policy that they will protest it the first day of school. He said they probably would opt to stay on campus, rather than subject themselves to drug testing.

"How can this be a problem for this small school?" Rolando asked. "It can't be that big of a problem. I don't know if they're trying to keep kids at school to make money in the lunchroom or what. It's just not necessary."

Schafer has said the goal of closing campus and offering random drug testing is to improve school climate. He said a student survey would be held at the end of the year to determine if the new policies have changed the climate of the school for better or worse.

The School Board meeting begins at 7 p.m. today in the board meeting room in the Hayden Schools Administration Building, 495 W. Jefferson Ave.

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