Drug Tests: School program must be realistic and fair

As two local organizations announce a change in focus for this school year, Wood County Schools bears even more responsibility to run its own similar program properly and fairly.

Parkersburg Drug Free Clubs of America at Parkersburg and Parkersburg South high schools and Drug Free Jackets at Williamstown High School have announced they will not be offering random drug testing for students this year, and are trying to decide how to carry on their missions. Meanwhile, Wood County Schools is randomly drug-testing all students in grades 9-12 who participate in sports, clubs that travel to events, extracurricular programs, or those who drive to school.

It is important that we as a community continue to try to fight the substance abuse epidemic from all angles — though it is also important to do so realistically, and it is good to see officials with both Drug Free organizations willing to adjust their roles.

That means the ball is in Wood County Schools’ court when it comes to making its own program as effective as possible. There can be no wiggle room for adjustments to the “randomness” of the program that, for example, ensure star athletes or children of well-connected families need not worry they will be tested or that there will be any consequences should they be tested and fail.

Administrators must also bear in mind that often some of the kids who are NOT participating in extracurricular activities or able to drive their own vehicles to school are growing up in environments that make them even more at risk, and perhaps in need of help. They must not view implementation of a random drug-testing program as an excuse to relax when it comes to searching out kids who have a problem.

If random drug-testing approved by the board and changing missions for the Drug Free organizations mean a better chance at helping our kids stay clean and sober, fantastic. All approaches are welcome.

They will do little good, however, if there are still kids allowed to escape consequences or fall through the cracks.