EDITORIAL: Say no to drugs, but yes to screening

2013-03-29T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Say no to drugs, but yes to screening nwitimes.com
March 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Valparaiso Community Schools board is right to consider random drug testing for students who park at school or participate in extracurricular activities. Some other districts already have this plan in place.

Superintendent Mike Berta recommended the drug screening in response to the results of a voluntary survey on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. The survey found Valparaiso High seniors use alcohol and marijuana and binge drink at higher rates than the state and national averages.

"That data is very compelling to me, and it should be to you," Berta told the School Board last week.

The drug testing is part of a larger effort aimed at reducing student drug and alcohol abuse.

About 45 to 50 percent of the student body would be eligible for testing. About 25 students would be tested each month.

Students who fail the test would lose parking privileges for 45 days and would be required to compete an eight-week drug and alcohol program after school.

Failing a second time would bring not only another 45-day parking permit suspension but also enrollment in a community-based drug and alcohol program at the student's expense.

A third failure would mean the loss of parking and extracurricular privileges for the rest of the school year.

The School Board plans to discuss this proposal at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the school administration building on Campbell Street.

We understand students who drive to school might have after-school jobs for which they need transportation. The loss of parking privileges could affect those students' jobs. Well, that's another lesson to learn.

Part of the process of fighting drug and alcohol abuse among students should be educating students and the community on the consequences of drug use. For that meeting Tuesday, bring in testimony from companies that have difficulty filling jobs because so many applicants can't pass a drug test. Numerous companies can attest to this problem.

And make sure the students who test positive get treatment, not just punishment. This is about changing behavior, not freeing up parking spaces.

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