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Duluth School Board considers reaction on drug testing

Some Duluth School Board members said they'd heard from many parents in recent days regarding the news of a possible random drug testing program for students.

Duluth school district
(2008 file / News Tribune)

Some Duluth School Board members said they'd heard from many parents in recent days regarding the news of a possible random drug testing program for students.

"I've heard a negative reaction so far," Art Johnston said at Tuesday's regular board meeting. "I'm not saying we don't move forward. The drug issue is always a problem. But there might be other ways to go."

Last week, school officials presented the board education committee with research on what a random drug testing program would look like, based largely on the one that Superior High School has used for several years. It would test high school students who participate in co-curricular activities, park on school lots and sign a pledge saying they won't do illegal drugs. On Friday, the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union urged the district to back away from such a program.

"Right now there is no formal proposal to take action on," Superintendent Bill Gronseth said. "If we go further down the road, there would be a lot of discussion," with parents, students and other community members.

Member Bill Westholm had concerns about the cost, estimated to be about $10,000 per year to test at both high schools. He said researching the issue was worthwhile, but he questioned the legality of testing students.

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Johnston said students with drug problems probably don't participate in activities like athletics.

"How are we going to get to those kids?" he asked.

An assumption is often made, Gronseth said, about the types of kids who have chemical health issues.

"It certainly could be students involved in athletics or clubs just as easily as those who are not," he said.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONSCHOOL BOARD
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