Pennsylvania Parents Outraged Over School Drug Testing

By McCarton Ackerman 08/14/14

Students as young as 10 years old are being tested for drugs and that has has parents mad as hell.

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Students and parents of a Pennsylvania school district are outraged over mandatory drug testing being administered to pre-teens and have recently spoken out to stop it.

The Perry County school district has required drug testing for any student who either drives or participates in an extracurricular school activity. Natalie Cassell, 10, was drug tested three times this past year at Susquenita Middle School because she is part of a leadership club.

"It was just kind of annoying because it was like, 'I already told you I'm not taking drugs,'" she said. "Instead of saying, ‘These activities are fun, you should do them, we need people to join,’ it’s just making people not want to do them."

Her mother, Kristin, was among the parents who spoke out at a recent school board meeting. She said it was "ridiculous" for a 10-year-old to be drug tested and expressed outrage that she wasn't notified when one of the tests took place. School officials said that a nurse is required to inform parents that their child is being drug tested, but doesn't have to wait for them to respond back.

Superintendent Kent Smith justified the testing by saying that drug use increases during middle school years and that the problem is already "prevalent" within the county. A 7-2 vote rejected a proposal to suspend the policy, but the Susquehanna school board president has agreed to revise the policy. Two meetings need to take place before any proposed revisions can be implemented; the next one is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Like it or not, student drug testing is becoming increasingly common across the country. Three Catholic high schools in the Cleveland area announced in April that all students will be required to undergo drug testing starting this fall, while other schools across the state have already implemented similar programs. However, many of the programs have been a bust. Approximately 750 students were tested over the last year at the three public high schools in Edmond, OK, but only eight recorded positive tests.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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