As parents of two IVCHS students, we have serious concerns about the proposed drug testing program at IVC (available at http://ivchs.ivcschools.com/).


As parents of two IVCHS students, we have serious concerns about the proposed drug testing program at IVC (available at http://ivchs.ivcschools.com/).

The stated reason for the program is to act “as a deterrent and prevention program” to the use of drugs by students attending IVCHS and to encourage the students to “make good decisions.” There is no statement of a “drug problem” — however that may be defined — in the proposal. To our knowledge, there is no empirical data substantiating any drug problem at IVCHS.

A major concern arises in the event of a positive result. The proposal states any re-test is at the student’s expense.
What if the student/family is unable to afford a re-test? Should the student’s participation in extra-curricular activities be determined by financial status? The proposal as it stands appears to discriminate against those unable to afford to fight a positive result.

It seems to us that spending a minimum of $10,000 per year (exclusive of staff time, possible litigation expense, etc.) to test a population of students that exhibits no real problem in order to encourage them to make good decisions is not only ineffective but a misapplication of scarce educational funds. In fact, it may well be that those who would most likely test positive would be those who do not participate in the various categories and so would not be subject to testing in the first place.

Another problematic issue is the treatment of results: Psychemedics (the drug testing service to be contracted) states on its website that the results should not be used to punish students but rather help them. The proposal as stated is in direct contravention of this suggestion. It is also unclear whether positive results end up in the record (permanent or otherwise) of the student. This clearly has long term, potentially disastrous results for a student, both academically and professionally. We do not believe IVC should be in the business of creating a situation in which, in the worst case, a mistake by a student to use an illegal drug derails his or her future.

Testing and obtaining no positive results is not justification for the program. It would be impossible to say whether the lack of positive results (which would be, of course, the optimal outcome) was a result of the students fearing getting caught and so not using or the fact that they (or at least those tested) do not use anyway. This program has the unfortunate result of sending the message to our teens that we do not trust them. As teens becoming adults, they learn by being trusted to do the right thing. There are sufficient methodologies in place (the Code of Conduct and state law) to address any drug use; this program is wasteful of scarce resources with no discernible benefit.

We see this proposal as a solution in search of a problem. We do not believe there is a problem sufficient for this government body to impose this invasive testing on students. The cost associated with the program and its implementation, as well as the risks of unintended consequences, far outweigh any potential benefit which may accrue to the school district.

We urge the school board to reject this proposal. We also urge all concerned to contact the board with their questions, comments and concerns.

James McClure and Denise Mammolito

Letter to the editor printed in the Feb. 8 edition of the Chillicothe Times-Bulletin