From the Arlington Daily Herald outside Chicago:
Random alcohol testing for students began this week at St. Viator High School, officials confirmed.
The program, which was announced by the Arlington Heights Catholic school in August, randomly tests the hairs of 10 to 20 students each week for alcohol consumption. St. Viator has been doing random drug testing since 2007. All students were tested for drug use when the school year started, but random testing that includes screening for alcohol began this week.
The school is working with Psychemedrics Corp., a Massachusetts-based company that will use a computer program to randomly choose students by ID number. Once selected, a school employee such as a nurse will take about 60 hairs from the back of a student’s head and send them overnight to the Psychemedrics laboratory in Los Angeles.
Company officials said the testing is very accurate and will show not only if a student has consumed alcohol and drugs, but also how much of the substance the student has ingested in the past 90 days. Small traces of alcohol, such as communion wine, will not show up on the test.
The hair is tested for alcohol and illegal drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, prescription opiates, methamphetamine and ecstasy. Test results will be sent back to the school within five business days.
St. Viator Principal the Rev. Corey Brost has said a first positive test will result in a meeting between the student, a school counselor, an administrator and parents, but no discipline.
Students who test positive will be required to pay for a second test 90 days later. A second positive test will result in discipline, which officials say will be handled on a case-by-case basis, but could include expulsion. School officials have said that less than 1 percent of drug tests come back positive each year.
Over at U.S. Catholic, Bryan Cones isn’t impressed:
I’m not sure that random drug testing really respects the human dignity of these students, and I don’t think that Catholic schools should be employing these kinds of Big Brother tactics. In short, do we want to kids to make the right choices because they are afraid of getting caught or because they have been formed to treat themselves and others as God’s daughters and sons?
Well, I think we want kids to make the right choices so they don’t kill someone while driving drunk, throw up on the teacher during home room, or start dabbling in crack once they get bored with beer.
Forming kids to “treat themselves and others as God’s daughters and sons” is wonderful. But so is fear. I have to say: knowing what my parents might do to me if I got caught breaking the law (or even breaking a curfew) did wonders for building character and keeping me in line.
Love your children and teach them to love others. But honestly? Sometimes scaring kids shitless works, too.