Parents Frustrated By School District's Drug Testing Of Young Children

| by Jonathan Wolfe

One Pennsylvania school district’s decision to randomly drug test kids as young as 10 years old has parents upset. Parents of children in the Susquenita School District say there young children are pulled out of class multiple times a year and escorted off campus for drug testing. 

The Susquenita School District began drug testing students participating in extracurricular activities in 2002. Initially, the tests were only administered to high school student athletes. But the rule was altered in recent years and now any student from fifth grade and up who participates in any after school activity is subject to testing.

Many parents see the testing as both a waste of taxpayer money and an invasion of their children’s privacy.

Leila May is a seventh grade student in the district and was tested once in fifth grade, once in sixth grade, and three times in seventh grade. Her after school participation in the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) is what made her eligible for testing. May’s parents are so fed up with the tests that they decided pulled her out of NJHS.

"We were so tired of this happening over and over again, so we said 'what can we do to make it stop?' We took her out of NJHS because of it," mother Melinda May said. "It's sad that this is what we had to resort to. It's ridiculous."

Father Michael May said he and his wife reached out to the school district and the American Civil Liberties Union to discuss the legality of the testing. They were told that it is, in fact, legal since after school activities are technically privileges.

May said he and his family "went to the principal, school board, superintendent – they're all lame on this issue. We even contacted the ACLU. They said it was concerning, but sadly, legal. We pulled Leila out of National Honor Society over it. That's what caused her to be tested, my straight-A student."

The district spends an estimated $50,000 annually on the tests. Only three students in the last five years have tested positive for any substance. The superintendent said that although the board will review specific complaints related to testing procedures, they are not interested in discontinuing the policy as a whole.

Sources: Penn Live (2)