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“If they have a pretty good school climate, we know from our research and other research that they’ll have less of a drug problem,” he said. “And then they won’t have to do the invasion of privacy and all the other issues that go along with testing kids for no reason.”
Duluth schools are highly invested in creating positive climates, said Lake, the climate coordinator. “Some of our schools have 10, 15 years invested in responsive classrooms and many other programs.”
Drug testing could amplify those efforts, he said. “I would suggest that maybe it doesn’t need to be an either/or.”
Concern for the cost
Erica Thompson, whose 17-year-old son plays hockey for Denfeld High School, supports random tests.
“It’s taking rights away from the kids, but if they’re under 18 and they belong to a team, they should be following the rules of a team,” she said. “I think anybody that is supposed to be representing a school should represent that school as best they can.”
But she worries about who might bear the cost of such a program. “We struggle right now to keep our athletic programs afloat.”
Duluth estimates that the tests could cost $5,040 a year, but officials don’t yet know how much it would cost to run the program. The Superior district spent $30,000 last year on its random drug testing.
Under a new policy, students who tested positive for drugs would be subject to the consequences outlined in the code of conduct or the Minnesota State High School League, according to a memo reviewed by a Duluth school board committee Tuesday. Superior connects those students with the resources they need to get better, Stevens said.
“Whether it’s something to do with drugs, academics or any other area, our job is to take good care of these kids,” she said.
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168