hearts and minds

May 18, 2007

Trying to Suppress Substance Abuse by Intimidation

Filed under: Bill of Rights,Education,War on Drugs — Hearts & Minds @ 12:16 am

(Here are some alternative light-hearted titles to the substantive article that follows. Click on the title above to read the article itself.)

“To Pee or Not to Pee; That is the Question.”
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means To Me , (By Urethra Cedarburg)”
“Cedarburg Salad Board – Lettuce Turnip and Pea”
“This Gland Isn’t Your Gland, This Gland Is MY Gland”
“2-4-6-8, Don’t Force Us to Urinate”
“1-2-3-4, Stay Outta Here When I Close the Door”
“Urine Trouble Unless U Urinate”
“Leave No Child Untapped and Unintimidated”

Cedarburg School District officials have been moving to impose random bio-chemical drug testing on students, since at least May of 2006. My two op-ed columns on that subject appeared in our local newspaper and in this blog in March 2007, and a few parents commented at the March 2007 School Board meeting. That was quickly followed by a School District press release.

The contrast between the statements in the minutes of every official meeting over the last year, and the subsequent statement by the Superintendent and the Board President in the March 22 “News Release” is clear and striking. Here are a few excerpts:

May 24, 2006, Policy Committee meeting
“Committee members shared their thoughts regarding the policy and agreed the District should randomly test students. … have (WASD) draft a similar policy for our District …”

October 24, 2006, Policy Committee meeting
“443.41 Random Drug Testing, 443.41 R Random Student Drug Testing Procedures … Dr. Herrick asked Ms. Chapman to investigate schools … in southeastern Wisconsin who participate in random drug testing… Dr. Herrick will contact the WIAA to get their perspective on random drug testing. ”

December 14, 2006, Policy Committee meeting
“The committee would like to have this encompass all clubs and organizations such as Spanish Club, DECA, Band, Debate, and National Honor Society, etc. … Communication is a very key component with the initiating of the random drug testing.”

January 25, 2007, Policy Committee meeting
“Mr. Leair reported that while the testing is being done parents will be notified. This should be considered a courtesy, not a requirement. If a parent refuses to let their child participate and not be tested, this will be considered a positive test… Dr. Herrick, Dr. Kobylski, Mr. Scheunemann, and Mr. Leair support the Random Drug Policy. They all feel communication is very important.”

January 29, 2007
Personnel and Finance Committee meeting.
“Dr. Herrick explained the administration would like to implement a student random drug testing policy in the Cedarburg School District.”

February 20, 2007 Full School Board meeting
“Dr. Kobylski explained a survey is the first step… it is hoped it could be implemented for the 2007-08 school year.”

Then, on March 8 and March 22, two local newspaper articles, War on Drugs Surges to Cedarburg High School and Cedarburg School District May Test for Drugs Without Cause surveyed the ineffectiveness, the unintended side effects, and the important arguments against random drug testing of students.

And on March 20, concerned parents made unsolicited public comments opposing Student Random Drug Testing at the Full Board meeting.

Following the appearance of these two articles, and the public comments made at the full Board meeting, the Cedarburg School District, on March 22, issued a “News Release”, which stated, in part:

“Recently, it has been reported that the School District is considering random drug testing for students involved in extracurricular activities and athletics at Cedarburg High School. The District believes this is an overstatement. District and High School administration have yet to determine whether they will recommend moving ahead with this program.

“School Board President John Pendergast said, ‘ … The research is in its infancy stages. While the district is researching this program the public will continue to be involved and clearly informed. … Until this and other questions are answered to the majority of the community’s satisfaction, the District administration will not make a recommendation to move forward with a program such as this.’ ” [Italics added]

The minutes of EACH meeting, from the very first meeting on record, a year ago May, express the clear INTENT of the District to impose random drug testing on students. It was not an “overstatement” to have “reported that the School District is considering random drug testing for students”. It was a serious UNDERSTATEMENT.

The public, to this very date, still has not been afforded an opportunity to see the draft policy the Administration and Board members have been discussing, advocating, and working to implement for the last year. The minutes have recorded not even one single voice from the Board or the Administration being raised to challenge or even question this policy direction, or the methodology to investigate it, before commencing steps to implement it.

It appears from all official minutes that the ONLY sources of information about Student Random Drug Testing that the Board and Superintendent sought out were other school districts that are currently using such a drug testing policy, a handbook that advocates such testing without reservation, a staff person at Ozaukee Council, and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA).

NO ONE expressed any interest in contacting Wisconsin school districts that had decided AGAINST implementing or continuing such a policy. NO ONE inquired whether any booklet that advocates a different approach was available. NO ONE at any of these meetings inquired whether assessments of random drug testing had been made by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Education Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Social Workers, or the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

This random drug testing may or may not sound good to you at first glance. But the Administration and the Board should investigate whether it has been shown to actually work, and whether there are serious negative side effects and costs for the community, and whether there are better alternatives, before imposing this policy.

Now is the time for the public to ask questions and express your concerns and opinions. Call the School District at 376-6100, or visit the web site to contact School Board members and the Superintendent. Don’t wait until after the policy is in force and the private contractors have been hired, before you consider the implications and the risks, to you, your children, your community and your nation.


  1. This thorough investigation of the drug testing issue and the school board’s/administration’s deceptive, autocratic actions on the matter should shock the senses of all citizens regardless of their thoughts on drug testing. Democracy dies when the public is slickly deprived of an informed voice, or any voice at all. Apparently, they feel their judgment alone is best and the public need not bother them. Will this remain so when elections come around? Perhaps they will be reminded that they work for the PUBLIC.

    I’m pretty sure that there are official, written rules on the conduct of school boards. I know they exist for Common Councils. If you get your hands on them, I am sure that several rules have been violated. With your excellent research and record keeping, their breach of official protocol may be another weapon for you.

    As a previous recipient of government trickery, slander, and outright suppression of civil liberties, I applaud your stance against the Board and Administration!

    Comment by Melinda — May 18, 2007 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  2. The reason we send our children to school is to educate them. Their bodies are their own and their parents business, not the business of the school. We pay our taxes to the School District to educate the children and to prepare them for life.

    Comment by Jane — May 19, 2007 @ 11:45 am | Reply

  3. I have extensive experience in substance abuse treatment issues. Thanks for your words of sanity on this issue. People, grasping at straws in desperation, think urine analysis might be the solution to all their family drug abuse issues. Instead they will enter a never-never land of hearings, denials, counterclaims, etc.

    Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this (or any other significant) human problem. Except, to quote the “great soul” Gandhi : addiction is “more a disease than a vice, but as opposed to most diseases, drink and drugs destroy not only the body, but also the soul.”

    I wish well to the students of Grafton and Cedarburg– and also to the less financed students of Milwaukee– don’t let nobody turn you ’round.

    Comment by Dr G — June 8, 2007 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

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