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drug prevention

A Northern Valley Regional High School junior protested the random drug testing policy at a September school board meeting, saying that the testing would make students feel like criminals.

A New Jersey district’s proposal to randomly drug test students in extracurricular activities has parents and the school board divided over district transparency.

The board at Northern Valley Regional High School District in Bergen County, N.J., voted in July to draft a policy for the testing as a supplement to other education-based drug prevention efforts in the district of two high schools.

It’s a drug prevention conversation—and program—that was largely missing as recently as a decade ago in most middle and high schools. In those days, the principal concern of health educators and disciplinarians alike was to keep students from misusing alcohol and illegal street drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and even heroine.

Emily is an intelligent, well-rounded high school student. She is in advanced classes and is president of the student government and captain of the cheerleading squad. She has many friends and has a job to help her parents, who are struggling financially. Emily is stressed from balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities and a time consuming job.

In December, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools gave $50,000 each to three districts recovering from multiple student suicides. The grant, Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SER V), funds recovery projects in districts after a traumatic event has occurred that disrupts the learning environment.

The federal approach to school safety is shifting. This shift was first seen at the federal summit on bullying, held August 12, with the announcement of the Safe and Supportive Schools grant, a program under the Successful, Safe and Healthy Students program in the Blueprint for Reform that focuses on the overall environment of a school. Climate surveys are the cornerstone of the grant, as the Department of Education is—for the first time—asking students and families to provide feedback on their school atmosphere.


As a student at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in North Plymouth, Minn., Grant couldn’t decide which he liked better, OxyContin or cocaine, so he took a lot of each. “My mom always told me I was a brilliant scholar when I was sober, but most of the school days I was pretty much up in the clouds,” he recalls.