Erin Kourkounis reports that yet another school district is moving closer to greater surveillance of students and invasion of their privacy:
On Tuesday, the Escambia County School Board could move one step closer to implementing the random drug testing of students.
In a workshop Friday, board members and district officials discussed the proposed policy, which the board could vote to advertise Tuesday.
If the policy passes, students who participate in extracurricular activities, athletics and campus parking would face random drug testing as a condition of having those privileges.
Parents would have to sign a permission form for their children to be tested randomly.
As many as 5,000 district students could be tested each year.
Read more on PNJ.com. One board member reportedly questioned the policy and asked why all students wouldn’t be subject to random testing. The lawyer’s answer boiled down to parking, sports, and extracurricular activities are privileges:
“In return for those privileges, we can require that students give up a certain amount of their privacy rights and we can test them for participating in those activities,” Waters said. “We don’t want to violate anyone’s rights; we want to do what’s in the existing law to deter kids from doing drugs.”
District 1 School Board member Jeff Bergosh, who supports the proposed policy, said he would be against testing all district students.
“I wouldn’t support testing everyone because I know it’s not legal,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to fight the (American Civil Liberties Union) and lose.”
And what happens to all those drug test results? Are they retained? For how long? Who has access to them? How are they secured? And how are they disposed of? Florida does not have any law requiring secure disposal of paper records. Nor does it have any law requiring people be notified of a breach involving their sensitive information if it’s in paper format. And the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t require schools to notify individuals of any privacy breach – merely to note it in a file. And if you take the position that these are “privileges,” are drug test results “education records” under FERPA?
I really don’t like schools “randomly” drug testing students. If school personnel have a concern about a student, why not just contact the behavior and describe the changes they’re seeing or their concern and ask the parents to take the child to the child’s own physician. I know that some parents won’t follow up, but let’s look at the fuller picture here – apart from the privacy implications. The proposed policy states that if a student tests positive, the student will be barred from the activity. That’s a simple behavioral approach. What are they going to do to get the child treatment or counseling? Nothing?
So you have a student who loves music, gets barred from music, what will that student then do? Magically straighten up to get back into music? Or will s/he become angry, do more drugs, etc.?
Think this through a lot more folks. A lot more.
A-Check image used for illustration purposes only.