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Michigan School District Considering Random Drug-Tests for Students

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According to local news reports, Michigan’s Goodrich-New School District is considering random drug-tests for students, despite high costs that would add burden to the already struggling district.

"I'd like to test as many students as possible in the districts whether it's tied to obtaining a parking pass, athletes or extra-curricular activities," Goodrich-New School Board President David Cramer said at a recent school board meeting, "I want the idea to get out there and the community to start thinking about it. I have been on the board for four drug-related expulsions, in addition to more suspensions then we'd like to have."

Interestingly, Cramer’s call for student drug-tests is linked to the tide of reform surrounding marijuana policy.

"Students today see medical marijuana in the community and even legalization (of marijuana) in some states," Cramer said. "I'm thinking some students are viewing it as accepted—it's not."

While Cramer’s call for more drug-testing is clearly reactionary, Nathan Hagerman, a 17-year-old student school board representative and National Honor Society member, has a more sensible outlook.

"I've been here for four years and know just about every one of my classmates and I have no idea that anyone was expelled for drugs. Also, the district just laid off two custodians and say they don't have the money to continue block scheduling, yet now money just appears to spend on drug testing. The school administration should not be acting like parents. Let the parents take their kids for drug tests if they are so concerned,” he said at the school board meeting.

"To catch a few students, others will pay and suffer," Hagerman said. "This is ridiculous. We're not in the work world yet—we're in after school programs. That's just not the same."

According to the Clarkstown News, an Athletics Director (AD) at a Michigan school district that became one of the first to start drug-testing student athletes after a 2003 legal decision agrees more with the sensible student than the School Board President:

Larry Lamphere served as Lapeer Community Schools athletics director from 1991-96 and AD in the Brandon School District from 1996 to 2006. For the past four years he as been AD in the Clio School District.

"The school board has not funded the drug testing for athletes in about four years here in Clio," said Lamphere.

"The cost is very high about $4,000 per year for the random tests. It's my experience the (drug) tests are not a deterrent for students. They (students) are willing to gamble on getting caught—many do that every Friday and Saturday night. If you're looking to stop the drug problems, spend the money on education, unless every student is tested. The random selection of students does not become a deterrent. Only one test per season for athletics and done at random, kids will take that chance. In most places of employment where it's random, there is no test unless there's a problem."

Moreover, doesn't forcing allegedly troubled, marijuana-using youths out of extra-curricular activities that may keep them engaged in school seem a little bit counter-intuitive? 

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