Tuesday, September 2, 2003
Hayden If parents think their children have not or will not use drugs or alcohol, they are fooling themselves, Hayden High School Principal Nick Schafer told a group of parents and students Tuesday. The message came during a forum held to discuss the school's newly adopted random drug testing policy -- a forum at which the policy came under fire from some parents.
Schafer had a similar discussion of the policy, which requires any student who wishes to leave campus to submit to random drug testing,.with the student body earlier in the day. Tuesday was the Hayden School District's first day of school.
He told the group Tuesday night that substance abuse at the high school has gotten worse and worse each year, reaching a new high last year. About 80 percent of the students at Hayden High School have smoked marijuana at least once, Schafer said.
"If any parent here thinks your kids at some time won't use drugs or alcohol, you're in trouble," Schafer said.
Schafer acknowledged that some schools across the country limit random drug testing to students involved in extracurricular activities, but he said those students are not the only ones the school is trying to help.
Parent Kelly Hayes asked Schafer several questions, such as who will administer the tests, what the price of the tests are, and if staff will be tested, too.
Schafer said school staff members are qualified to administer the drug tests, a claim several parents disputed. Schafer also said the school had received grant money that will pay for each of the drug-testing kits, and said staff would not be drug tested.
Parent Tami Green said it is unfair for students to be tested and teachers not to be tested, and that teachers should "set an example." She also said drug testing is unconstitutional because it is an invasion of privacy.
Other parents said they wanted to be present if their child were being tested. Schafer said he had no problem with that.
Schafer also said students can refuse to be tested, but doing so will forfeit their right to leave campus during school hours for the rest of the year.
Several other parents questioned whether their children would be unjustly accused because of inaccurate test results, but Schafer said the tests are accurate.
A few parents said they supported the policy, but most in attendance opposed it.
Student Council President Shai Engle called to task the vocal opposition, asking parents where they were when the school held several public meetings to form the policy.
"If we would have had your input then, we could have taken it into consideration," Engle said.
"Remember, I'm trying to do this to help your kids," Schafer said. "We could grant money to get a police officer in here full time, but our kids aren't that bad."
Another parent said there should be more activities available for students.
Schafer agreed and said people will have to come together to brainstorm in order to get that done.
-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204
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