With many school districts throughout the country implementing random drug testing programs, more schools in Florida are exploring expanding their testing.
Starting in September 2020, several public and private schools across Florida will begin to randomly drug test students, primarily focusing on high schoolers.
South Florida public school districts, including in Monroe County, have already instituted random drug tests for the current school year and the 2020-2021 school year.
Pointing to the rise of teenage vaping, school officials insist it makes sense to drug test students and now it is filtering over to private schools.
In Jacksonville, officials at three private schools–Bolles, Episcopal and Bishop Kenny–told parents that starting in September 2020 they will begin to drug test students.
The president of the Bolles School said testing is needed to help deter students from using drugs and alcohol.
“The primary purpose of this is to help somebody that has a need,” said Bolles President Tyler Hodges.
The schools will make drug tests mandatory. School officials said that they were already drug testing but it has been based on suspicion only.
School leaders say the testing will be done through saliva as they look to detect 15 different drugs including nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana, opiates, oxycodone and synthetic marijuana.
While the private schools will look to test all students, Monroe County school officials plan to perform random drug testing on high school athletes, cheerleaders and band members.
Drug testing students has it’s critics with the Florida ACLU insisting it is unconstitutional.
“First, schools wanted to test student-athletes, then it was students in extracurricular activities, and now it’s students competing in quiz bowls and performing in choir,” said Graham Boyd, the director of the ACLU’s Drug Policy Litigation Project. “Where does it end?”
A Bishop Kenny parent told Florida Daily that they sympathize with parents who feel that their kids may be unfairly targeted with random tests but thought testing remains a good idea.
Monroe County school principals have assured parents that random testing isn’t to entrap the students but to help them with intervention.
Of course, students who test positive for drugs could face punishments. The Monroe County School Board has approved 10-day suspensions for students who test positive. A second positive test would mean a 30-day suspension and further positive tests could lead to the student being banned for the rest of the school year.
Hodges said the drug testing isn’t meant to single out any one student, insisting it can be used as a deterrent to help students make healthy lifestyle choices.
Reach Ed Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.