Board OKs drug tests for middle-schoolers

/ Source:

Students as young as 11 could be asked to pee in a cup and be randomly tested for drugs under a policy adopted by a small New Jersey school district.

The Belvidere School Board voted 9-2 Wednesday night to extend a random drug-testing program already in place at Belvidere High School to students in middle school.

School board President Brian Smith said the move is necessary "because sixth- and eighth-graders use drugs."

"We want to correct the problem before they get to high school," Smith was quoted as saying by The Express Times. "We want to change student behavior."

The program is voluntary and will require both student and parental consent. Students in grades six through eight at Oxford Street Elementary School who agree to participate will be added to a pool from which they could be randomly selected for drug testing.

School officials say that children who test positive won't be punished, nor will the police be notified. Instead, they would get counseling or be referred to a drug rehab center, according to the website ParentDish.

"Belvidere is a small town and there's not a whole lot to do," Oxford Elementary Principal Sandra Szabocsik told ParentDish. "The younger kids tend to hang out with their older brothers and sisters. The hope is that knowing that they may be drug tested at school the next day will serve as a deterrent."

Not everyone agrees.

"I haven't seen compelling evidence random drug testing is the answer for preventing students from doing drugs," said Jane Bullis, a school board member who voted against the proposal, according to the Express Times.

Jay Rorty, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, told ABC News studies have shown drug-testing is not an effective deterrent.

"Making a child pee in a cup is not a good civics lesson," he said, according to ABC News. "It's an attempt at an easy fix to a complicated issue."