If Batesville Community School Corp. trustees had voted Aug. 19 on whether to begin random drug testing of students, the decision would have been close.
But trustees were just beginning to discuss the issue and want more research and input from citizens before they decide whether or not to enact a policy. Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts said the topic will be on the Monday, Sept. 16, agenda and maybe after that as well. The public meeting takes place at 6 p.m. at the Batesville Middle School commons.
Roberts pointed out, “We have no policy in regards to random drug testing, but there has been some dialog,” first at a series of 2011 public forums about underage drug use and more recently in Coalition for a Drug-Free Batesville meetings. A January CDFB survey showed 88.2 percent reported they would support schools requiring drug testing of students prior to participation in voluntary activities, such as being on sports teams, participating in clubs or driving to school.
Trustee Wanita Linkel asked, “How many area schools do random testing?” According to Roberts, “There are a few,” including Sunman-Dearborn and Greensburg. “Rushville was one of the first. They were a test case” that went all the way to the Supreme Court in the 1990s.
Trustee Dr. Steve Stein wondered, “What have studies shown? Obviously, we’d like to stop kids from using drugs and alcohol, but does random testing affect that?” The superintendent said, “You won’t find significant difference between schools that test and don’t.” BCSC President Chris Lowery reported, “There are not a lot of studies out there.” He said the American Academy of Pediatrics is opposed to the testing “because of its inconclusive nature and … students’ privacy.”
Stein said, “Let’s say you have a student … acting strange. Would this give us the ability …. to test him?” Trustee Ray Call suggested the student be referred to a nurse. Because of the random nature of the tests, Roberts didn’t know if an athlete suspected of using could be targeted.