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Florida Drug Testing of Students

From the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel, May, 2013

Florida Drug Testing of Students Debated

This highlights the arguments surrounding a drug testing policy at the Lake Highland Prep School (a private school) and the view taken by the newspaper’s editorial staff.

Two people, one a law professor in Chicago, and a mother named Debbie Moak, presented differing ideas around the debate about drug testing in schools. Ms. Moak and her family has suffered losses to drug abuse. H. Krent is a constitutional law professor has asserted correctly that a private school can test for drugs –although he Drug Testing in Schoolsquestions the wisdom of it. Trust is the first thing to go after privacy in such cases.

The newspaper disagrees with Krent because it feels the schools have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the students. Further, the paper states that the minimal (their words) invasion of privacy is outweighed by the duty society has to students and parents to provide a safe and nurturing setting in which to learn.

The paper asserts that society has an obligation to place expectations upon kids and to hold them accountable for their decisions and their actions. Holding then accountable, they say, does not necessarily mean breaking their trust. They view it as essential to teach kids that accountability for the choices they make in life.

Krent (the professor) speculates (incorrectly, in the view of the Sentinel) that the Lake highland Prep School’s Administration team believes the school has a big drug problem. The paper disagrees –although grants that one student using drugs is too many.

Below are listed the reasons given by the Sentinel for advocating drugs testing of students in grades 7-12. This includes, not only initial testing but frequent random testing and consists of hair follicle testing.

  • To provide the information to parents which would enable them to get professional help in a timely manner.
  • To alleviate peer pressure by providing a good excuse to kids (knowing a random test is around the corner).

The newspaper views the program as a promotion of health and wellness for students –not a disciplinary measure.

Students testing positive would be informed along with their parents in a confidential meeting with a school admin official. Thereafter, the responsibility for taking care of the problem would be with the parents.

A second positive result would trigger a request to leave the Lake Highland School.

Because the young developing brains are susceptible to permanent damage, along with results of studies that point to the correlation of young users growing into adult abusers; and the large numbers of accidental overdoses on record, the paper believes the privacy issue is a lesser concern.

*****End of Editorial****

Notes by Dave J:

The newspaper piece fails to recognize the harm that may come to the student at the hands of an unruly alcohol fueled father who would rather inflict corporal punishment than seek professional help.  

The tack taken by the paper assumes all parents are like ‘Leave it to Beaver’ parents.  Some households are headed up by alcoholics, drug abusers, frail mothers with absentee fathers ….the list goes on.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. 

Some parents have no control over their kids.  Even in ‘good’ homes headed by stable parents, attentive to their kid’s needs, if a kid goes through school without falling in with the wrong crowd, it is a matter of luck.

Attentive parents will take positive action when they notice their kids have a problem, without the input of the school administrator or a random drug test.  The other kids are on their own.  They will use, abuse, fail a drug test, get their butt kicked by their old man and be no further ahead.

Some families will have their kids doing detox routines to pass the test.  The point is, all families and their values are different.  Hence, no ‘one size fits all.’

Image: Angry Father_W Silver_ CC BY 2.0

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