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Should We Be Drug Testing Middle School Students?

A Pennsylvania mother has expressed outrage after her 10-year-old daughter was drug tested at school three times this year.

Fifth-grader Natalie Cassell was pulled from class three times for the drug tests because she is a member of Susquenita Middle School’s Family and Consumer Science Club. The Susquenita School District requires any student participating in extracurricular activities to be tested for drug use at random. Most districts with similar policies only implement them on high school students.

Natalie’s mother, Kristin, had no problem with the tests being implemented on older students, but believes repeatedly drug testing a 10-year-old is excessive. She requested to be notified when the tests were taking place so she could be present, but claims they didn’t notify her on the last two occasions. “I don’t think it’s necessary for fifth and sixth grades. I told the superintendent, ‘if you see signs, red glassy eyes, a stupor, then I could see testing,'” said Kristin. “It’s too much. [My daughter] is 10-years-old.”

Pictured: Natalie Cassell (left) and mother Kristin Cassell – Christine Baker / Penn Live

A computer algorithm chooses which students will be selected at random, and they could be tested for drug use up to four times per year. Parents in the school district must sign permission slips and consent to the random tests before their child joins an extracurricular activity or sports team. Susquenita Superintendent Kent R. Smith also indicated that he has no plans to alter the protocol, stating that he has “no problem with the policy the way it exists.”

Drug Testing Students Across America

Although it’s unclear when this practice began in high schools and middle schools, school districts have tried to sell parents on the random testing by stating that it’s intended to prevent a serious drug problem before it starts. And while it’s typically reserved for students competing in extracurricular activities, three Catholic high schools in Cleveland, Ohio will begin the testing next year for all students. First time offenses will result in mandatory counseling and treatment.

“This is not designed to be a punitive program,” read an e-mail to parents from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. “It’s designed as a proactive prevention and intervention strategy. By identifying students at risk, we can work with parents and health professionals to get them the help they need and re-direct their path.”

For the three public high schools that drug test students involved with extracurricular activities in Edmond, Oklahoma, students’ results are never brought to law enforcement officials. The drug test information is also destroyed once a student graduates or leaves the school district. However, many parents believe that the tests are a waste of taxpayer money. Out of the 750 students who were drug tested in Edmond over the last year, only eight recorded a positive result.

What do you think: Should public schools drug test students? Leave a comment!