Pennsylvania School District Scraps Pre-Teen Drug Testing Program

By McCarton Ackerman 12/12/14

Parents rebelled against a controversial program that tested kids as young as 10 and 11 years old.

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A Pennsylvania school district that sparked outrage for drug testing students as young as 10 years old has announced that they are abolishing the program.

The Susquenita School District confirmed the decision in a post on its website, but didn’t specify why they were scrapping the program. The school board had approved a draft for a revised policy last October that would only subject students in seventh grade and above to the testing, but the district has now decided that no students will be tested.

Many parents applauded the decision, believing the $41 spent per drug test was a waste of money that could be used to cover other costs in the district. Others also believed the amount of testing was excessive for children that young. Ten-year-old Natalie Cassell had been drug-tested three times because the policy stated that any student involved in extracurricular activities would have to be tested, which included her time in 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, expressed outrage last August over not being 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.

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.